For older people, it's particularly important to keep moving, but vigorous exercise may no longer be possible. Can yoga fill the gap? For many seniors, the answer is yes.
How Yoga Can Help Seniors?
Yoga can help older people in a number of ways:
- Attending classes can help keep them from becoming isolated and find community. Many retirement communities offer yoga as one of their activities.
- Yoga can improve balance and muscle tone, which can in turn help prevent falls.
- Yoga can also improve mood, reduce stress, and help protect seniors from depression, which can become more common with age.
- It also improves posture, sleep, and lung capacity.
For seniors with arthritis, yoga is particularly beneficial. In addition to reducing stress, yoga can improve joint flexibility and function and reduce pain. However, seniors should choose instructors who are used to working with older people and can develop sequences that fit within their limitations. Some studios specialize in older students. How arthritis affects yoga depends on its severity, but in general, most seniors with arthritis can do yoga and benefit from it.
And yes, yoga is suitable for seniors over 70 as well, although some modifications may end up being necessary.
What Kind of Poses Are Good, and What Should Be Avoided?
Some poses are better than others for seniors. Some good poses include:
- Tree Pose: Improves balance and is particularly good for avoiding falls. Seniors should develop this pose slowly.
- Warrior Pose: Good for bone density and lower body strength, and is also a good stretch.
- Extended Puppy: A modification of downward dog that is less stressful on your knees and hips.
- Low Lunge: A modification of a standard lunge where the back leg remains in contact with the ground, which again puts less stress on knees and hips.
- Bridge Pose: Good for your hips and lower back, and is excellent for people who sit too much.
Seniors (for that matter anyone) should halt a pose immediately if they are feeling pain. Restorative yoga, which involves using more props and putting students in comfortable poses is a good option for less active seniors.
Avoid vigorous classes that might be more suited to younger people. Also, talk to your doctor about specific poses you may have to avoid. For example, people with glaucoma are often advised to avoid head-down positions that can increase eye pressure.
What is Chair Yoga?
Chair yoga for seniors is an option that is growing in popularity. Chair yoga is good for anyone who has difficulty with traditional or standing poses and can also include people who use a wheelchair. It is also popular with busy professionals who can sneak in a pose or two at their desk.
Some chair yoga poses are standing, but using the chair for support. If you have significant balance issues, have been sedentary, or simply need some confidence boosting, it's worth checking out chair yoga. If you do chair yoga at home, make sure you have a solid, sturdy chair. Chairs with wheels do not work well.
Health Benefits of Chair Yoga for Seniors
Chair yoga has many of the benefits of traditional yoga, but is a lot easier for total beginners. It can help your joints, your stress levels and, like traditional yoga, is good for people with arthritis.
Yoga for seniors is an awesome option to improve the health of both the mind and the body. Seniors should check with their doctor to make sure that they don't overdo it and find out any poses they need to avoid.
They also need an instructor used to working with older people. With these caveats, though, most people 70 and older can do and enjoy yoga.
Sarasota Bay Club is proud to offer many health and wellness classes and activities to our residents. Contact us today to schedule a tour and explore our independent living community today.