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Yoga for Seniors: Benefits & How to Get Started

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Staying active as you get older is an important factor in keeping yourself healthy. Yoga is a great, low-impact exercise that provides many benefits to those who practice it. 

What are the benefits of yoga for older adults?

For seniors interested in yoga and the ways it can help their physical and overall wellness, it is good to understand the basics. From stretching, breathing, to mediation practices, yoga can be a wonderful way for older adults to stay flexible and in the present moment. By doing yoga regularly, you can see better balance, stronger bones, lower stress levels, enhanced breathing, reduced anxiety, and a better night's sleep. 

Is yoga safe for seniors and those with limited fitness abilities?

Of course! Because the poses, also known as asanas, can be easily modified to suit an individual’s needs, yoga is safe for seniors and those that come from different fitness levels. Yoga cultivates a mind-body connection, combining stretching and strengthening postures with deep breathing and relaxation. Each pose can be altered to accommodate whatever feels the most comfortable for you and your level of flexibility. Anyone can do yoga, however, it is important to consult with your doctor for any precautions you should be aware of.

Can yoga help with incontinence and bladder leak management?

Yes, practicing yoga can help with incontinence treatment. Practicing kegels, also known as pelvic floor exercises, can help strengthen the muscles in that area. Yoga can help seniors with incontinence better control bladder urges and have less trips to the bathroom.

What are the best types of yoga for senior citizens?

There are a variety of yoga styles that exist, so it may be tough to figure out which kind is the right one for you. It is important to consider what your goals are - if you are looking to get stronger or more flexible, or just want to relax your mind and body. You should know what your fitness level is and what your body’s physical capabilities are. The best types of yoga for older men and women are as follows:

  • Hatha is the best type of yoga for beginners. It is a slow-paced form of yoga that focuses on stretching and breathing through physical postures - varying from sitting to standing poses. 
  • Vinyasa is a form of yoga that matches breathing with a series of continuous movements (also known as flow). These routines are often fluid and quick, allowing for a more difficult challenge for yoga beginners. 
  • Restorative yoga  is a slow, meditative form of yoga designed to release tension without stretching. Props are used to help support the body and poses are held for long periods of time to allow for relaxation.

A Non-Traditional Option: Chair Yoga for Seniors

Traditional yoga may not be for everyone, and that's okay! There are alternative versions of yoga for those with limited mobility or balance issues. Instead of getting down on the floor, chair yoga for seniors is a perfect option for those who want to reap the benefits of yoga. From spinal twists and hip stretches to chest openers and forward bends, all these poses can be done while seated on a chair.

Basic Yoga Positions for Beginners

There are a bunch of different yoga positions to learn. It may be difficult at first, but getting familiar with the terms and poses can help get you into the groove.

  • Mountain Pose: Basic standing pose that helps you improve your posture and balance.
  • Tree Pose: Builds lower body strength and improves balance. Modified versions can be done while either leaning on or sitting in a chair.
  • Downward-facing dog: Opens the chest and stretches out the calves, hamstrings, and lower back. If you have wrist problems, you can modify this pose by keeping your forearms on the ground.
  • Cat-cow Pose: Promote flexibility in the spine and strengthen the abdominal muscles, and can also be done from a chair.
  • Plank: Develops core stability and upper body strength. For a modified version, keep your knees on the ground, like halfway push-ups.
  • Triangle Pose: Strengthens hamstrings, hips, and core. It can help ease sluggish digestion and relieve lower back pain. You can also do the triangle pose while seated.
  • Warrior I Pose : Opens the chest and hips and strengthens your calves, ankles, and thighs. If reaching up is too difficult, keep your hands on your hips.
  • Child's Pose: Frequently used as a resting position, the child's pose stretches the spine and hips as well as the lower back. It's a good way to relax, relieve tension, and calm your mind.

Yoga Classes for Seniors

If you are new to yoga and would like to learn, it is recommended that you take an in-person yoga class so you can get accustomed to the practice with an experienced teacher. They can help make sure you are doing the moves correctly and have good posture to avoid any instances of injury. Taking a class is also a great way to be social and meet people in your community.

How to Find Beginning Yoga Classes for Seniors Near Me 

The best way to find a yoga class for seniors near you is to contact local yoga studios, community centers, or fitness clubs in your area. They will have yoga classes for beginners and most likely, gentle yoga for seniors.

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