As you age, you enter the “golden years” of your life, which bring along precious gifts like maturity, wisdom, experience, and more. However, you probably also find yourself battling physical ailments like osteoarthritis, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes to name a few.
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According to a report presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two out of every three senior Americans suffer from multiple chronic disorders, and the treatment for this population accounts for 66% of the country’s healthcare budget.
Getting older is inescapable. However, aging gracefully is a choice you can make. Incorporating Yoga into your lifestyle can help you age with poise. Yoga refreshes your mind and body while promoting the normal functioning of your internal organs and endocrine system. By doing Yoga regularly, you will develop the flexibility and the strength to perform everyday chores and enjoy a healthier mental state.
Here are 8 Yoga poses that can be practiced by seniors and are safe & effective in the absence of a Yoga instructor.
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
The mountain pose is the foundation pose that will help you focus on your breathing pattern and get you ready for performing other Yoga postures. This pose will strengthen your ankles, knees, and thighs.
- Stand erect with your arms at your side hugging your waist to ensure lumbar stability. Look straight ahead and distribute your weight evenly on both feet.
- Inhale deeply and raise your arms upwards and hold them together above your head by interlocking them. Raise your toes simultaneously. Try to maintain this posture for as long as you can.
- Exhale slowly while lowering your body and arms, and allow your shoulders to relax.
Practice ten breaths before you continue with other poses.
2. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
As the name suggests, this is an easy pose, similar to sitting in a cross-legged position. Sitting in the easy pose will help loosen stiff hips joints, strengthen the spine, and help you achieve a calm state of mind.
- Sit on the floor with your legs crossed and rest your hands on your knees with your palms facing upwards, and join the tips of your thumb and index finger.
- Sit erect. Inhale and exhale while focusing on your breathing. This pose can serve as a great warm-up exercise. Do this for ten minutes every day.
- Feel free to use a blanket or a Yoga mat if you feel uncomfortable sitting directly on the floor.
3. Half-Waist Wheel Pose (Ardhakati Chakrasan)
This posture can be performed even by those with low fitness levels. Practicing this pose will improve your flexibility and digestion, tone your waist muscles, regulate your blood pressure, and alleviate your back pain.
- Stand erect with your head straight and arms by your side.
- Inhale deeply and raise your left hand above your head so that your upper arm touches your left ear.
- Exhale in this position while bending towards your right. Try to maintain this posture for a few seconds and lower your left arm.
- Repeat this procedure with the right hand. To see a visible improvement in your fitness levels, practice this pose 3-4 times daily.
4. Hand to Foot Pose (Padahastasana)
Padahastasana is a ‘forward bend’ pose that strengthens the muscles of your limbs, controls digestive problems, improves blood circulation, and eliminates stress. This pose can be practiced only after you have primed your body with a warm-up asana like the sukhasana.
- Stand erect. Take a deep breath and raise your arms over your head.
- As you exhale, bend and try to touch your feet. Try not to bend your knees.
- You will not be able to touch your feet in the beginning. However, you can rest your hands on your knees until you are able to do so.
- Try to stay in this pose for a few seconds and then straighten your torso until you are upright.
- When starting out, repeat this procedure two to three times daily. You can then increase it to five times depending on your comfort level.
5. Cat Pose (Marajariasana)
This pose is fairly simple to perform and is useful in adding flexibility to your spine. This pose helps massage your digestive organs and hence, improves digestion. It also reduces stiffness in the neck and the spine.
- Start by resting your body on your arms and knees in a ‘tabletop’ pose. Your head should be aligned so that your eyes are focused on the floor.
- Exhale and raise your spine towards the roof without moving your arms and knees. Hold this posture for about fifteen seconds.
- As you inhale, lower your spine back to its normal position.
- Practice this pose five to six times daily depending on your capacity to stretch.
6. Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
This pose offers excellent upper-back strength and improves the functioning of the lungs. Practicing this pose will also improve your blood circulation and relieve stress.
- Lie flat on your stomach with your forehead resting on the ground. Keep your legs close together.
- Stretch your arms in front of you with the palms facing downwards and the arms touching the ground.
- Inhale deeply and slowly lift your head, chest, and abdomen using your arms’ support.
- Stay in this pose for a few seconds and gently bring your body back to the ground while exhaling. Repeat this procedure two to three times daily.
7. Cobbler’s Pose (Baddha Konasana)
This pose will enable you to unlock your hip and groin joints if they’ve become stiff over a period of time. Sitting in this position also enables you to massage your soles.
- Sit on the floor with your spine erect. Bring the soles of your feet together towards your pelvis and gently press them together.
- Clasp your big toes and press the outer edges of your thighs towards the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds.
- Slowly come back to your original position by gently spreading your legs along the floor.
- When starting out, practice this pose two times a day. Stay in this pose for thirty seconds each time. When you feel comfortable, you can increase number of poses and the duration.
8. Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
This pose is highly recommended for the elderly as it is easy to perform, and relaxes the mind and the body. Shavasana resets your system and helps improve your concentration. It also reduces blood pressure, muscle tension, and anxiety. Conclude your Yoga session by practicing this pose for ten minutes and watch your fatigue disappear.
- Lie flat on your back with your legs and arms away from your body.
- Close your eyes and breathe in and out while relaxing every part of your body. Feel your muscles loosening.
- Once you feel relaxed, open your eyes and come back to the sitting position.
Yoga is for everyone. You need to find the poses that best suit your requirements and comfort. The above-mentioned Yoga poses are simple and do not demand extra fitness levels. These Yoga poses make for a great workout and can be safely performed in the absence of a Yoga trainer.
Author bio: Swati Kapoor is a qualified dietitian at Practo. She has a Masters degree in Dietetics and Food Service Management. She is a strong believer in spreading the goodness of ‘nutrition through healthy eating’. As a responsible dietitian, Swati examines her patients’ health history carefully before recommending any diet or workout regimen, because everybody has different requirements. Connect with her on LinkedIn.