Yoga for Seniors, the Elderly, and Older Adults
When the talk turns to yoga, many of us may automatically visualize younger adults in a variety of complicated poses. Even though the benefits of practicing this gentle form of exercise are well-documented, older adults may not believe it is a practical option for them to explore. Practiced safely, yoga can be a great way for seniors to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion. It can also help to improve overall health and wellness.
Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
Yoga for seniors has quietly been gaining in popularity because of the many health benefits it provides. The most common benefits include:
- Improvement in Chronic Pain: Older adults may find yoga helps them manage the pain and symptoms of chronic illnesses including arthritis. Because yoga helps to build muscle strength, damaged joints become better supported.
- Weight Management: Mid-life weight gain is all-too-common. Many adults struggle to find ways to beat the battle of the middle-aged bulge. Yoga can be a solution. Researchers have found that practicing yoga for as little as 30 minutes a week can seniors better manage their weight.
- Stress Reduction: Older adults may not realize how much tension they carry in their neck, shoulders and upper back until it is gone. Because yoga has a relaxation effect on the entire body, it can help reduce the impact of stress on the body.
- Boost in Mood: Exercise in general can help lift the spirits and improve your mood. Seniors who practice yoga will find this to be especially true, in part because it improves breathing practices.
- Lower Incidence of Hypertension: Researchers in India evaluated yoga’s overall heart health benefits for seniors. They found that people who had mild to moderately high blood pressure were able to reverse it by practicing yoga. Study participants lowered their blood pressure, as well as their bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Diabetes Management: Senior yoga can also aid in reducing blood sugar levels. Older adults who had diabetes at the time they started practicing yoga saw significant improvement in their disease after 40 days.
What to Look for in a Senior Yoga Class
When yoga is performed under the watchful eye of an experienced instructor, it can be one of the best forms of exercise for older adults to routinely engage in. Unfortunately, not every yoga teacher is experienced at working with the unique needs of seniors. Here are a few tips to look for when you are exploring your options:
- Find a class that is small in size. That will help ensure you receive the attention you need to avoid an injury, especially while you are learning. Classes that specialize in beginning yoga for seniors may be best.
- Observe a class or two to see how engaged the instructor is with older participants. Watching how they conduct the class and interact with seniors will tell you a lot about their level of experience. You may also be able to find specific senior yoga classes near you.
- Talk with the instructor one-on-one before you join a class. Ask about yoga poses for seniors. Share your health problems and any physical limitations or restrictions you have with them. If you feel as though they understand your situation, give the class a try. If, on the other hand, they seem impatient or uninterested it may be best to keep looking.
Yoga Resources for Older Adults
If you or the senior you love would like to learn more about yoga, these resources may be of interest:
Have you explored the benefits of yoga yourself? We’d love to hear how it has helped you in the comments below.