The 9 Best Yoga Poses for Older Adults, According to an Instructor

Yoga can benefit every body. It's a matter of picking the right poses.
Image Credit: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Stone/GettyImages

One of the main things I love about yoga is that it's for ​every body.​ From toddler years to the golden years, yoga is accessible to all and offers many benefits when practiced regularly, especially for older adults.

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Aside from improving flexibility, mobility and balance, establishing a regular yoga practice also offers many other physical benefits, including strengthening and energizing the body, reducing the perception of physical pain, as well as maintaining bone and joint health and muscle mass.

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Additionally, yoga can also aid with improving mental health by helping to calm the brain, relieve stress, ease insomnia and fatigue and improve focus and concentration.

Whether you know an older adult who can benefit from starting a yoga practice or are one yourself, here are some of the best yoga poses for seniors to do — with or without props. Aim for two to four times a week to help with feeling better physically and mentally.

Warning

While all of these poses are great poses for older adults to do regularly, it's always best to talk to your doctor before attempting anything new. Remember to focus on your breath and do what feels good to your body in order to enjoy the benefits of these amazing poses.

1. Seated Spinal Twist (Utthita Marichyasana)

1. Seated Spinal Twist (Utthita Marichyasana)
Image Credit: Shawna Davis/LIVESTRONG.com
Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Sit on the chair so that the back of the chair is at your left side.
  2. Place your feet parallel to each other on the floor.
  3. Turn your torso to the left, aiming to hold the sides of the chair with both hands.
  4. Use your hands to help you ease into the twist by pulling on the right hand and pushing the right hand into the chair.
  5. Inhale and exhale in this pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
  6. Release from the twist and repeat on opposite side.

This pose is a great with helping to maintain a healthy spine and relieving backaches, shoulder and neck pain.

If your feet don't touch the floor when you're sitting, place yoga blocks underneath your feet. Or if the floor is too close, sit on some folded blankets on the chair.

2. Seated Eagle Arms (Garudasana)

2. Seated Eagle Arms (Garudasana)
Image Credit: Shawna Davis/LIVESTRONG.com
Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Sitting on your chair, reach your arms out in front of you and bend your elbows to 90-degree angles, aligning them with your shoulders.
  2. Face your palms to each other and wrap your left arm underneath your right elbow and bring your left arm up until your forearms are parallel to your body.
  3. Wrap your left wrist around your left wrist, placing the palms together. Or get as close to this as your mobility allows.
  4. Draw your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  5. Slowly breathe in and out for 5 to 10 breaths.
  6. Release your arms and repeat with the opposite arm on top.

If you suffer from tight shoulders, you'll benefit greatly from this asana, as it helps open the space between your shoulder blades to enable deeper breathing and can also help relieve pain from tension-induced headaches.

3. Standing Supported Forward Fold (Uttannasana)

3. Standing Supported Forward Fold (Uttannasana)
Image Credit: Shawna Davis/LIVESTRONG.com
Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Standing in front of the seat of a chair, place your hands on your hips and slowly fold forward, hinging at your hips.
  2. Stack your forearms on top of one another on your chair and rest your forehead on your arms. If this is too intense, stretch your arms out in front of you, allowing your head to rest between your arms.
  3. Keep your spine lengthened and stay in this pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
  4. To come out of this pose, return your hands to your hips and lift your back as you stand.

This forward fold creates a sense of relaxation by soothing and calming the body, while strengthening and stretching the hamstrings.

4. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

4. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Image Credit: Shawna Davis/LIVESTRONG.com
Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Begin standing in Tadasana or mountain pose.
  2. Spread your toes and root down through all four corners of your feet.
  3. Breathing in, focus on a point in front of you, keeping your right leg strong and steady as you begin to lift your left leg and place the left foot against the the left calf.
  4. Use the edge of your chair for support if needed.
  5. Draw your shoulders down your back as you activate your core and bring your palms together in front of your heart.
  6. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, release and repeat on opposite side.

This standing yoga pose can be done with or without props and provides the benefits of cultivating good posture, improving balance, remedying flat feet and improving focus.

5. Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

5. Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
Image Credit: Shawna Davis/LIVESTRONG.com
Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Come onto all fours with wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Spread your fingers as you root down through your hands.
  3. Tilt your pelvis upward and arch your back, lifting your chest forward and your glutes up toward the ceiling. Set your gaze forward.
  4. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths and release.

Cow pose is a wonderful asana that opens the lower back, chest and throat, while also aiding in digestion.

6. Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)

6. Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
Image Credit: Shawna Davis/LIVESTRONG.com
Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. From cow pose (see above), fully inhale from your lower back all the way through your upper back as you arch your spine upward.
  2. Tilt your pelvis downward and scoop your tailbone.
  3. Set your gaze down on your mat.
  4. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths and release.

Typically done in conjunction with its counter pose, cow, cat pose targets the abs while increasing spinal flexibility and gently massaging and warming up the spine.

7. Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)

7. Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Image Credit: Shawna Davis/LIVESTRONG.com
Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Sitting with your feet out in front of you, bend your knees to bring the soles of your feet together evenly from toes to heels. Feel free to sit on a booster or blanket.
  2. Support yourself by wrapping your hands around your feet or placing your fingertips on the floor behind you.
  3. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths before straightening your legs on an exhale to release.

Sometimes referred to as cobbler's pose, this amazing and gentle hip opener helps soothe sciatica and relieve stiffness in the pelvic area.

8. Shinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

8. Shinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
Image Credit: Shawna Davis/LIVESTRONG.com
Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Lie on your stomach, bending your elbows at 90-degree angles and stacking your hands in front of you.
  2. Keep your hands and forearms flat on the ground.
  3. Rest your forehead on the ground and extend your legs behind you.
  4. Press your forearms into the ground and slide your hands back to lift your head and open your chest. Align your elbows with your shoulders and spread your fingers wide.
  5. Inhale and exhale slowly as you pull your chest forward.
  6. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, then slowly lower your torso back down to come out of the pose.

This heart opener will encourage you to breathe deeply into your chest and upper back while providing a gentle backbend that can help minimize lower back pain.

9. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

9. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Image Credit: Shawna Davis/LIVESTRONG.com
Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Lie on your back and bend your knees, keeping your feet flat and rooted to the ground.
  2. Place a bolster, folded blanket or pillow underneath your knees to provide additional support if you'd like.
  3. Relax your arms at your sides with your palms facing upward and slowly extend your legs out one at a time.
  4. Draw the shoulders down and away from your ears and close your eyes.
  5. Stay here for 5 to 10 minute, breathing in and out slowly through your nose.

The final asana of just about every yoga class, this classic pose rejuvenates both the mind and body, providing total relaxation.

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