Yoga For Seniors: A Procrastinator’s Guide
Excited about the benefits of yoga but procrastinating getting started? Once you experience the youthful flexibility, increased balance and improved strength you won’t be sitting on the side lines.
Group of seniors practice tree pose next to a pool

Balance. Flexibility. Strength.

Yoga is a time-proven way to connect with all these qualities—physically, emotionally, and mentally.

If you’ve been hearing about yoga for years, but have not yet started, don’t worry. You don’t have to be able to touch your toes, stand on your head or do a backbend to get the benefits.

Here’s a quick guide to getting started.

Yoga Benefits for Older Adults

Yoga is an ancient tradition. It is believed that yoga dates back upwards of 5,000 years.

Isn’t that an awesome amount of field-testing? This means that thousands of people have enjoyed doing yoga for thousands of years. In this time, people have experienced the benefits not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

What does yoga mean?

The word “yoga” comes from a Sanskrit root “yuj” which means union, or yoke. It refers to the sense of oneness and tranquility, arising with concentrated attention.

What brings us to yoga?

For older adults, yoga opens not just physical flexibility, but also emotional and mental flexibility. If you’ve been hearing about yoga, but putting it off—perhaps it will help to know just how much good it can do for body and mind.

Let’s explore some of the many benefits.

Physical Benefits

Reduces Hypertension, Improves Breathing
Some yoga practitioners report stress relief, leading to not needing as many medications on a daily basis. Various yoga exercises have been shown to positively affect respiration, improving breathing.

Prevents Osteoporosis, Protects Joints
Yoga can help prevent osteoporosis. The natural weight bearing moves of yoga helps to strengthen the bones and protects joints. Yoga helps build muscle mass and/or maintain muscle strength. This protects the body from arthritis, osteoporosis, and back pain.

Improves Balance, Flexibility, Mobility
Slow, measured movements used in yoga postures can create a better sense of balance and flexibility. This in turn, can help prevent falls. Falls are known to be a leading cause of injury in seniors. Yoga provides a functional way to stay flexible, balanced and strong.

Promotes Well-Being
Research suggests that yoga can promote healthy eating habits. produce an invigorating effect on physical and mental energy. This can improve fitness, reduce fatigue, and decrease stress. It has been found to be a complementary therapy for people who are well and enhances quality of life for patients with life-threatening diseases.

A group of seniors practice yoga

Mental Benefits

Decrease Anxiety
Yoga helps to reduce anxiety, lower heart rate, reduce blood pressure and helps with breathing. When regularly practiced, yoga can have therapeutic effects, increasing feelings of calm and tranquility.

Reduces Stress
Why do all those people look so calm, happy and relaxed? Because they just came from a yoga class! Yoga is known for reducing stress. This stress-busting benefit works for people of every age. As a 73-year old yoga practitioner told me, “If yoga was a candy, everyone would eat it.”

Lowers Depression
Aging does not have to go hand-in-hand with depression. With exercise, nutrition, and social contact, seniors can take charge and lower the risk of depression. Yoga is a mood-booster. Consider yoga to be one of the key modalities to help lower depression.

Improves Sleep
As we age, sleep shifts. For some seniors, sleep is rare. For others, it is interrupted. The beauty of yoga is it improves both sleep quality and sleep quantity. If it’s been years since you slept through the night, this may be the benefit that tips the scales.

Social Benefits

Boosts Social Engagement
Going to a yoga class is a way to meet like-minded people, share stories and expand your social circle. If you’re more comfortable exploring new activities with a companion, ask a friend to go with you to your first class.

Make Friends
Making friends is easy to do at a yoga studio. Whether meeting in class, at a talk or retreat, yoga practitioners are most often warm-hearted and welcoming.

Schedule Exercise
Instead of struggling to make time for exercise, a yoga class offers a reliable schedule. This is a great way to make sure you get the exercise you’ve been seeking. If you consider yourself a procrastinator, this is really helpful.

An older couple practice yoga in the park

4 Tips For Getting Started

With all these benefits, no doubt, the wheels are turning. I can just hear you saying, “Maybe it IS time to take up yoga, after all!”

If so, now is a good time to make an action plan.

Here are 4 things to help you get started.

• Ask Friends. Ask your friends where they like to practice yoga. You’ll get valuable referrals, plus most likely, a friend to go with to class. They’ll share their personal tips, hold your hand, and guide you to their favorite teachers. It’s often easier to try something new with a friend.

• Try Online Options. Try an online class. If you’re feeling shy, or want to ‘test the waters,’ taking an online class is a great first step.

• Experiment. Try different styles. You may prefer gentle yoga, hatha yoga, senior yoga, or vinyasana yoga. There are many different styles to explore. Give yourself room to try things out, and experiment. You may not find a perfect match instantly. But, you will get the ball rolling.

• It’s For You. When you do yoga, focus on your own experience. Enjoy moving, breathing, and finding your own center of balance. It’s all about your experience.

Assistance Club Summary

The Big Idea: Yoga is good for you—physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.

Seeing all the benefits of yoga, it’s easy to understand why so many seniors love it.

If you’ve been thinking of trying out a yoga class, go for it. The sooner you go, the sooner you’ll start to enjoy the benefits.

* Names changed to protect privacy