Around 2.9 millions seniors, age 55 and older, are practicing yoga, according to The Yoga in America study conducted by "Yoga Journal." This is no surprise, as yoga has many specific benefits for this age group. Yoga is a gentle and non-competitive method of exercise and meditation that can fit any age.
Although beginning yoga for seniors is similar to general beginning yoga, there are some differences specific to the senior class. Generally, a senior yoga class will have modifications to poses, to help you ease into yoga and work within your physical capabilities. A beginning yoga class for seniors will feature less intense postures and give a chance to build strength and work up to more difficult poses. Also, beginning yoga for seniors often includes more time warming up and extra time for meditation. Breathing is generally a main focus of the class.
Practicing yoga has many benefits for seniors. Yoga is an exercise that can be done by anyone, at any level. There are modifications to every position and yoga is non-competitive. Specific to seniors, yoga can improve flexibility, which is beneficial if you experience stiffness. Suza Francina, author of "The New Yoga for Healthy Aging," highlights that many people in the older population have depression, which yoga has been found to help. Yoga can improve many problems associated with aging, including energy levels, cholesterol levels, bone weakness, arthritis, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and pain. It can help in the prevention of weight problems, diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
Generally, certain poses may be chosen over others for a senior beginning yoga class. "Yoga Journal" says many poses for this population will hone in on improving flexibility, balance and strength. Some senior yoga instructors include bends, both forward and back, and twists. Francina recommends seniors to do Mountain pose, Easy or Cross-legged pose, and Corpse pose every day.
Although yoga can be a gentle exercise, it can also be intense, depending on the level. Pay attention to your body and consult with your doctor before beginning a yoga program. Francina recommends the use of props to assist you in performing different poses. Use a chair for balance and instead of going on the floor. Use other props, such as blocks, straps and blankets, for support.
When looking for a beginning yoga class for seniors, find a yoga instructor trained in the specifics of yoga for seniors. Your teacher will need to know modifications to poses and be familiar with different health conditions. You may need to try out different teachers before finding the right fit. To find a senior yoga class in your area, inquire at local senior centers, community centers or search on a yoga teacher website such as Yoga Alliance or Yoga Finder.
- "Yoga Journal": Forever Young
- "The New Yoga for Healthy Aging"; Suza Francina; 2007