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 the many benefits of yoga for seniors 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 Senior Assistance Club’s quick guide to getting started on yoga for seniors.
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.
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.
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 of yoga for seniors.
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.
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.
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 for older adults provides a functional way to stay flexible, balanced, and strong.
Research suggests that yoga can promote healthy eating habits and 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.
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.
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.
Aging does not have to go hand-in-hand with depression. With exercise, nutrition, creative outlets like arts and crafts for seniors, helping the community through volunteering for seniors, and strong relationships with others, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Instead of struggling to make time for exercise, a yoga class for older adults 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.
With all these benefits of yoga for seniors, 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 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 an online class. If you’re feeling shy, or want to ‘test the waters,’ taking an online class is a great first step.
Try different styles. You may prefer gentle yoga, hatha yoga, senior yoga, or vinyasa 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.
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.
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.