Yoga is one of the few exercises that’s suitable for everyone – regardless of age. Older adults can benefit from yoga in several ways, without having to worry about harming their bodies. Yoga for seniors can result in reduced stress, increased flexibility, and better balance.
Thanks to the growing awareness of yoga’s benefits for older people, there has been a huge surge in yoga’s popularity in recent years. Today, there are more than 15 million people in America, aged over 50, who are currently practicing yoga.
In this article, we’re going to be listing the benefits that yoga can have for seniors. And as not all forms of yoga exercises are suitable for you as you age, we’ll also tell you which ones are.
But before we begin, we would strongly encourage you to speak to your physician to make sure yoga won’t be bad for you. There are some special circumstances in which yoga is not suited to an older person, so it’s a good idea to get the go-ahead from your physician before starting.
But in almost every case, yoga will be great for older people. First, let’s take a look at a few reasons why yoga should be practiced by seniors.
Yoga for Seniors: The Benefits
Originally, yoga aimed at creating a unity of the spirit, body, and mind, that would lead the practitioner to enlightenment and oneness with the universe. But in the west, yoga has departed from its Eastern philosophy and is generally practiced to promote physical fitness. Although a few remnants of spirituality still remain in western yoga, it can be practiced by people belonging to different religions without any conflict.
One of the unique things about yoga is its flexibility. All the yoga postures and exercises can be modified to better fit an individual’s preferences. The flexibility of yoga as an exercise means that the postures and forms can be changed to cater to the needs of older adults.
Another reason why yoga is particularly suited to seniors is that it doesn’t have any of the drawbacks of other physical activities. Jogging or weight-lifting, for instance, may not be suitable for all seniors as these activities can cause joint stress. But yoga, if it’s practiced properly under the guidance of a certified instructor, won’t have any such drawbacks.
Yoga’s most well-known benefit is increasing the body’s flexibility. As our bodies age, our joints tend to get stiffer and we lose some of the flexibility of youth. So, in older people reduced flexibility becomes a problem as stiff joints can lead to pain while walking or engaging in any physical activity. Yoga can help to restore flexibility and bring relief from stiff joints.
Yoga movements function as gentle stretching exercises for seniors, without putting undue strain on tendons. When you hold a yoga pose for a few breaths, muscles and tendons stretch and become more flexible. When the exercise is performed over a long period, your overall flexibility will increase dramatically.
Another important benefit of yoga for older adults is improved balance. One of the biggest causes of injuries in seniors is falling. As we age, we tend to move around less, and our sense of balance suffers as a result. Yoga exercises can help increase your core stability and make your core muscles stronger. So senior citizens who practice yoga can improve their balance and reduce the chances of falling and hurting themselves.
Osteoporosis is another common condition in seniors in which bones become weaker. And weaker bones can result in increased chances of bone fractures. But yoga exercises can help seniors to increase their bone strength. For instance, performing a weight-bearing yoga posture routinely can be of great help in increasing bone strength.
Yoga isn’t just about physical exercises. Proper breathing and meditation are also important elements of yoga. This mental aspect of yoga can help seniors to reduce their stress and achieve a sense of calm. Depression and anxiety, two common mental issues that seniors often struggle with, can be alleviated through the practice of yoga as well.
Yoga can also help seniors who are struggling with insomnia. Research has shown that older adults who practiced yoga reported fewer problems going to sleep at night. The subjects of the study were over 60 and practiced yoga daily. After three months, they reported an improvement in their sleep quality.
Another essential element of yoga is breathing exercises. These breathing exercises are good for your heart as well as your lungs. A study on senior women reported a marked improvement in the subjects’ respiratory systems after 12 weeks of yoga exercises.
Now we know about all the benefits yoga can have for seniors, let’s take a look at which types of yoga are well-suited for them.
Which Kinds Of Yoga Are Good For Seniors
There are a large number of different yoga types that each focus on providing different benefits to practitioners. While any form of yoga will be good for your flexibility and general fitness, it’s still important to choose the kind of yoga that is best suited for you.
Seniors, especially, need to choose which kind of yoga they’re going to go for. Some forms of yoga are very demanding and should generally be avoided by older adults. Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga, for instance, are two difficult kinds of yoga that shouldn’t be practiced by seniors.
As older adults are more susceptible to injuries and sprains than other people, simpler and less demanding forms of yoga are a better and safer idea. When it comes to yoga for seniors, Hatha Yoga is one great option.
Hatha Yoga is a type of yoga that focuses primarily on the physical aspects of the exercise. It consists of different sequences of postures that are either meant for standing or seated positions. In these sequences, the focus is on breathing and stretching and the movements are slow and measured. These exercises don’t use any weights, and they are not physically demanding. That’s why Hatha Yoga is one of the simplest forms of yoga and is suitable for beginners and seniors alike.
List of Yoga suitable For Seniors
The following forms of yoga are a great choice for seniors who want to reap the benefits of these exercise routines.
Raja Yoga – Raja Yoga is also known as “the Royal Yoga” and it consists mainly of meditation, breathing exercises, and mental focus. It is a form of yoga that teaches you about your body and mind at a deeper level and helps to keep stress and depression at bay.
Kundalini Yoga – Kundalini Yoga is a great choice for seniors, especially people who suffer from anxiety or insomnia issues. This type of yoga focuses on the breath and posture in order to control your body’s energy flow. Through this process, you can achieve a deep state of consciousness and achieve a sense of inner peace.
Viniyoga – Viniyoga is a form of yoga that’s tailored to suit your personal needs. It consists mainly of slow movements and it also requires you to use some props for support. This type of Yoga can be performed either on its own or in combination with another yoga type. This makes it a suitable choice for seniors, but it’s also great for people of any age who are trying to build up their strength or attain greater flexibility.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga – Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is quite demanding on your body and you need to be in good physical shape to practice it properly. People who have a higher risk of heart disease shouldn’t go for this form of yoga as well, but seniors who are generally in good health can certainly reap the benefits from this type of Yoga.
Iyengar Yoga – Iyengar Yoga is known for using props during exercises, which makes it a good choice for those seniors who have conditions such as arthritis. This form of yoga focuses on the breath and is known to be very effective in improving your physical and mental health.
Zen Yoga – Zen Yoga is great for people who want to achieve inner peace and relaxation through different meditation techniques. It”s also a suitable option for people who are dealing with chronic pain or are practicing cancer therapy.
Bikram Yoga – Bikram Yoga is quite demanding on your body. It works by performing different postures in a room that’s heated to an unusually high level of heat, so this type of yoga isn’t suitable for older adults who have medical conditions such as heart problems, high blood pressure, or respiratory issues. The same goes for people who suffer from arthritis.
Yoga For Seniors: Final Thoughts
Seniors who are looking for a form of yoga that’s suitable for their age and health conditions should make sure they consult with their doctor before they start practicing it. This will help them choose the right type of Yoga according to their needs.
In general, forms of yoga such as Hatha Yoga , Kundalini Yoga, Viniyoga , Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, and Iyengar Yoga are suitable for seniors who want to reap the benefits of these exercise routines.
Additionally, Seniors who practice yoga regularly report feeling more flexible, enjoying better balance, and having fewer issues with arthritis pain. The same goes for people over 70 years old , who have been practicing yoga for six months.
As you can see, there are plenty of different forms of yoga that can be suitable for seniors and beginners alike. The most important thing is to make sure you find the right style and instructor who will help you safely perform these exercises.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is yoga safe for seniors?
A: Yoga classes are especially safe for older adults because there’s always an instructor who will guide you through all the exercises. Moreover, since these routines allow your body to move in many different ways, they can be performed by people of almost any age without worrying about injuries or other medical conditions that might occur while exercising.
Q: How can I find a good Yoga instructor for seniors?
A: There are many yoga studios that have instructors who have been specially trained to teach Yoga to older adults. Depending on the type of class you want to attend, it’s best if you contact them directly and schedule an appointment so you can get all your questions answered.
Q: How can I start practicing Yoga?
A: The best thing is to enroll in a beginner’s class so you can learn the proper techniques. At first, it might be difficult for you to perform some of these exercises, but with regular practice, your body will gradually become more flexible and you’ll quickly notice the benefits of this type of Yoga.
Q: What are some of the most commonly used props?
A: Props such as blocks, straps, bolsters, and chairs are used to help you perform various poses so your body can be fully stretched and support your muscles all the way through. They’re also useful for people who have arthritis and other medical conditions.
Q: What are the benefits of these Yoga exercises?
A: Yoga has been proven to help people improve their physical and mental health, raise their energy levels, improve strength, maintain flexibility and prevent themselves from getting old too fast. The best thing about this type of exercise is that it helps your body become more flexible and supports your muscles all the way through.
Q: Are some Yoga exercises too difficult for seniors?
A: If you start practicing these exercises at a slow pace, you’ll quickly realize they are quite suitable for older adults as well. Since you can make them easier or harder depending on your needs, there isn’t a single pose that’s considered too hard for older adults.