Yoga for Seniors

Chances are you’ve heard the benefits of keeping active for seniors. One of the many activities that have shown to deliver positive results is yoga. Yoga combines a series of postures and breathing techniques to calm the mind and body while strengthening the body at the same time. While you think you may have to be as flexible as Gumby to strike a pose, think again. Many yoga exercises are simple and can be done just about anywhere and by anyone.

Why Should Seniors Do Yoga?

The health benefits of yoga for seniors and other age groups should be enough for you to want to learn how to do a downward facing dog. These are just some of the ways yoga is good for us all:

  • Helps to minimize high blood pressure- Statistics show that more than 60% of men and women over the age of 65 are dealing with high blood pressure. While many take medication to keep their numbers down, practicing yoga can also help. The controlled breathing done through the various yoga poses decreases nervous system activity which in turn helps to manage blood pressure levels.
  • Strengthens bones- Osteoporosis is a concern for many women as they age. The weight bearing activity done through yoga poses can help strengthen bones and reduce the risk of brittle bones.
  • Shed pounds- Keeping weight off can help to avoid diabetes and other health problems. Yoga can help to burn fat and build muscle at any age.
  • Improve balance- As we get older, maintaining balance can become an issue. Yoga helps people to improve and maintain balance through a variety of poses.
  • Reduces Stress & Improves Mood- Yoga can help to reduce stress through the mindful breathing and meditation it offers. Yoga also causes your brain to release mood-altering chemicals that can make you feel good and ward off feelings of depression.

Types of Yoga for Seniors

There are many different types of yoga if you’re interested in learning more as you start your practice. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Hatha Yoga- Any yoga that teaches physical posture is considered hatha yoga. Hatha yoga classes will give you an introduction to basic poses.
  • Vinyasa Yoga- A series of fluid movements is common in Vinyasa classes. These classes will keep you moving from pose to pose. Gentle music is usually played to provide a calming atmosphere.
  • Ashtanga Yoga- Each breath is linked to a movement in Ashtanga Yoga. These classes are usually repetitive with poses done in the same order.
  • Bikram Yoga- Bikram yoga classes are held in studios where the heat is turned up. These classes are not for the faint at heart as you will sweat profusely as you move from pose to pose.
  • Restorative Yoga- Restorative yoga focuses on passive poses to help relax the body. Many times blankets and blocks are used.
  • Chair Yoga- This is geared towards people who may not be able to stand for long periods of time or do the exercises on a floor mat. Poses are modified using a chair for support.
  • Water Yoga- Many of the same poses that are done on a mat are done in the water. Some seniors prefer this method because it is low-impact and can help with joint pain.

Where Can I Find Yoga for Seniors?

Before starting any exercise program, including yoga, it’s best to check with your doctor to make sure it is right for you. Your doctor can also help you determine which type of yoga you should begin with. Once you have that settled you can look into programs around you. Yoga classes are just about anywhere. Look to see what studios are in your area. Gyms usually offer yoga classes as well. Many towns also offer yoga classes through community centers.

If you prefer not to do yoga in a group setting, you can always strike a pose at home. There are videos in the store and online as well as many websites that offer easy explanations of poses. Something as simple as standing straight and breathing deeply is considered a yoga pose. There are many other simple poses that can help introduce you to yoga. Check with your doctor to see what poses are best for you to do at home.

Whether you’re doing yoga at home or at a studio in a group setting, a yoga mat and comfortable clothing is usually all that’s required.

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