• Health & Wellness

What Is the Best Type of Yoga for Seniors?

Interested in yoga for seniors? Learn about different types of senior yoga and the five best practices for a healthy lifestyle for seniors.

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Yoga for Seniors: Benefits, Best Practices, and More

Are you a senior looking for a safe and effective way to improve your physical health and overall well-being? 

Do you wish you could sleep better and reduce stress?  

Yoga can help.

If you’re interested in learning more about yoga options for seniors, you’re in the right place.

In this article, you will learn: 

  • Yoga exercises for seniors
  • Benefits of yoga for seniors
  • 5 best practices for beginning yoga; and
  • More

What Is Yoga for Seniors?

Adults of all ages can benefit from yoga, especially seniors. The practice of yoga can help seniors: 

  • Stay active
  • Practice mindfulness; and
  • Improve their overall health

Yoga is highly effective in combating: 

  • Stress
  • Fatigue; and 
  • Pain

As a result of some yoga poses, core strength and balance are increased, lowering the risk of falling. In addition, other poses can ease aging-related health issues, such as menopause. 

Yoga, above all, is an exercise that can make seniors feel younger.

What Type of Yoga Is Best for Seniors?

Yoga for seniors has countless benefits, including: 

Beginning yoga does not require any experience or flexibility. Here are three of the most popular types of yoga for seniors, to help you find the one that is right for you.

Chair Yoga for Seniors

Chair yoga for seniors is ideal for those who cannot stand for long periods or who cannot work on a floor mat. With chair yoga, you can do all the yoga poses with the support of a chair. 

A chair allows you to practice yoga poses while seated and can be used to provide support when standing.

During chair yoga poses are modified, and to provide additional support, a teacher often uses the walls and other props.

Gentle Yoga for Seniors

Some questions you can ask yourself if you suspect your loved one is uncomfortable are:

  • Non-strenuous
  • Less intense
  • Meditative; and
  • Restorative

A gentle yoga class usually involves: 

  • Extra warm-up movements
  • Poses that are held for longer a period of time; and
  • Modifications to help people of all fitness levels enjoy the benefits of yoga without risking injury 

Gentle yoga classes typically emphasize:

  • Stretching
  • Seated poses; and
  • Low-impact movements

Therapeutic Yoga for Seniors

Research has shown that yoga for seniors has numerous physical and psychological benefits, including: 

  • Improving cardiovascular health
  • Reducing anxiety and depression; and
  • Improving functional fitness

The therapeutic approach to yoga is holistic and focuses on simultaneously treating the:

  • Body
  • Mind; and
  • Spirit

Through various yoga practices, the …

  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Muscles; and
  • Nervous system

… are all strengthened. 

Our goal at Senior Services of America is to help seniors live more fulfilled lives.

Our communities provide organized activities, such as yoga for seniors and offer assistance wherever needed, to ensure seniors stay active while in our care. By keeping seniors busy and involved in our communities, we strive to make them as independent as possible.

Find your nearest Senior Services of America community to see what we can offer you and/or the senior in your life.

6 Benefits of Yoga Exercises for Seniors

#1: Improved Balance and Coordination

Falling is a leading cause of death and serious injury among elderly people, and fear of falling or the experience of falling can become debilitating.

In addition to causing people to move less, the fear of falling can also lead to stiffness, which, in turn, causes them to become more sedentary.

An increase in … 

  • Balance
  • Strength
  • Agility
  • Mind-body coordination; and 
  • Perception of the body relating to the environment 

… can benefit everyone, especially seniors. 

The mind-body aspect of yoga makes it particularly effective in treating this problem. 

In addition to strengthening and increasing flexibility in the lower body, the breathing exercises relax and oxygenate tissues, as well as cultivate a sense of body and and spatial awareness.

#2: Improved Flexibility and Joint Mobility

Are you having difficulty moving your joints or feeling weak or achy in your muscles? Are you suffering from arthritis? Then, yoga is a natural solution.  

As we age, we lose our: 

  • Flexibility
  • Mobility; and
  • Lubrication of the joints

Therefore, keeping limber is essential for seniors to relieve joint pain and maintain good posture.

Research has shown that yoga can reduce chronic inflammation, which can enhance flexibility and mobility.

#3: Improved Breathing and Circulation

Along with the above benefits, yoga may improve a senior’s breathing ability.

When practicing yoga breathing control techniques (known as pranayama), you can expand the capacity of your lungs and improve your respiratory health. 

Through breathing exercises, yoga can: 

  • Regulate the respiration rate
  • Increase lung capacity; and
  • Ensure adequate oxygen levels in the body

Healthy blood circulation is essential to a healthy body. Yoga is a great way to increase blood circulation.

The benefits of good blood circulation include: 

  • An energetic body
  • A strong immunity system; and 
  • A radiant complexion

#4: Reduced Stress and Anxiety

Research has shown that yoga can help alleviate stress and anxiety by: 

  • Calming the body’s fight-or-flight response during times of stress
  • Encouraging you to focus on the present
  • Encouraging you to find peace by practicing meditation and mindful breathing
  • Reducing the stress hormone cortisol, alleviating depression and anxiety symptoms

#5: Improved Sleep Quality

Another issue that may affect seniors is not getting enough sleep. 

As we age, our bodies experience physiological changes that impact sleep.Undiagnosed and untreated insomnia may result in impaired daily functioning and reduced quality of life for older adults. 

Besides being associated with higher morbidity and mortality rates in older populations, insomnia is a risk factor for accidents and falls — which are the most common causes of accidental deaths in older adults.

Three key reasons yoga may help seniors get a better night’s sleep include:

  1. Exercising can help you sleep more soundly.
  2. Mindfulness and better breathing promote melatonin production.
  3. Stress reduction and a better mood reduce nighttime worrying.

#6: Improved Posture

Recent studies have shown that yoga may improve posture, and it is no surprise that it does. Yoga strengthens your core and lengthens your spine, in addition to increasing body awareness.

The discs between the vertebrae compress, and the spine curves during aging, causing slouching and poor posture. However, yoga poses can help improve your posture, which can, in turn, boost your confidence and self-esteem.

Because our spine supports our bodies all day, it’s imperative to keep it in great shape.

Beginning Yoga for Seniors: 5 Best Practices

#1: Go at Your Own Pace

In order to gradually build strength and flexibility, it is essential to take things at your own pace.

To become more flexible for yoga, you should ease into it. Yoga is your own practice and is not about keeping up with the people around you. 

Be sure to rest after every pose and never rush into new postures. Until your body has adjusted to your routine, it’s best not to add any new movements.  

Focus on going at your own pace, and before you know it, you will see positive changes throughout your body.

#2: Stop if You Feel Pain

The motto, “No pain, no gain,” doesn’t apply to yoga practice. 

While it’s normal to feel a little discomfort as you begin to stretch your muscles, if you experience pain during a stretch or posture, stop the pose. 

There are many benefits to yoga, but if you overdo it and injure yourself, you will not be able to practice the required movements.

#3: Drink Plenty of Water

It’s important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after yoga to remain hydrated. 

Water helps to:

  • Regulate your body temperature
  • Lubricate your joints
  • Transport nutrients; and
  • Keep your body functioning at its highest level

While you’re practicing yoga, water is more than just an excuse to stop and catch your breath. As you lose water through sweat, you need to replace that fluid with new water to avoid dehydration.

Also, water is vital for your body’s recovery from exercise. Since you continue to lose fluid through sweating and urination for some time after finishing an exercise session, you need to drink more fluid than you lost.

#4: Enjoy the Experience

Along with the benefits yoga can bring, enjoy the experience and journey a yoga practice can provide. 

Yoga is a non-competitive and gentle method of exercise — relax and see where this fitness journey takes you.

#5: Practice Yoga Regularly

Because yoga doesn’t usually produce quick, dramatic results, commitment is essential. 

Practicing yoga frequently, for shorter periods of time (15-30 minutes), is more beneficial than fewer longer sessions. Even a single weekly yoga session will have benefits.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise regime to make sure you’re doing activities that are safe for your health and situation.

Senior Services of America: Experience Senior Living That Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle

It is a common misconception that senior living comes with decreased independence and activity, but this is not true in Senior Services of America communities. 

Our facilities encourage seniors to stay active — and we offer health and wellness programs to keep you or your loved one healthy and happy. 

We can help seniors find heart-healthy activities and make healthy choices that will improve their physical and mental well-being. 

To learn more about our facilities and the range of amenities we offer, find your nearest community today.