Maybe you’re not as limber as you once were, but you can still reap the many benefits of yoga – regardless of your age.
Focusing on the movement and breathing brings calmness and mental clarity. It’s low-impact, so it’s easy on your joints. The variety of postures will help increase flexibility and build strength. Plus, it requires zero equipment and can be done virtually anywhere! Even seniors with physical limitations due to arthritis, chronic pain or other conditions can modify their yoga practice and still realize the benefits.
Consider these tips for incorporating yoga into your daily routine.
- Yoga from your chair: That’s right – yoga can be done while sitting in a chair. Seniors who may struggle with mobility can practice small physical movements and breathing exercises from the comfort of a chair. These exercises can be as simple as ankle rotations and leg lifts – movements that almost anyone can attempt.
- Keep safety in mind: Although yoga can be safely done by most people, individuals with certain health considerations (balance difficulty, joint replacements, high blood pressure, arthritis and other conditions) should check with their physician before beginning the practice. There are a number of classes catering to seniors that can help with modifications and proper form instruction.
- Seek out professional instructor with experience with seniors: When considering instructors, ask about their experience and how they may tailor moves to fit seniors’ abilities. Although yoga certifications vary by type, ask about their training experience.
- Basic moves to try: There are a number of poses that most seniors can safely attempt. Consider the following movements, searching them online for demonstrations:
- Tree: For this balance booster, stand straight with legs together and arms extended over your head, palms touching. Lift one leg up so that the toes remain on the ground and the heel is touching the inside of the other leg. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat with the opposite leg.
- Bridge: This pose strengthens the lower back and hips and is excellent for those who have been sedentary for a long time. Lie on your back with the knees up, feet directly under them and arms at your side. Inhale, pressing your hands into the floor. Breathe out as you lift the spine off the ground in a “bridge” position. Hold for 30 seconds before slowly lowering your back flat on the floor.
- Warrior II: This standing pose strengthens the lower body while boosting bone density. Stand up straight, feet hip-distance apart with arms at your side. Turn to the right, moving your right foot several feet wide before turning it to a 90-degree angle. Breathe in as you raise your arms to the side up to your shoulder height. Exhale as you bend your right leg, making the thigh parallel to the ground. Maintain pose for 30 seconds before attempting with your left leg.