Although yoga is an age-old practice, it has risen to popularity within the past 30 years and has become integral part of people’s lives. Yoga is a meditative practice that focuses on breathing techniques while improving core strength and flexibility. Many elderly people, women in particular, have turned to yoga to maintain healthy joint mobility and flexibility.
If you don’t know where to begin, yoga can be an intimidating form of exercise. It seems that there are endless poses, some of which involve mild contortion, which can overwhelm people who are new to yoga. If you are over 60 years old, the last thing you want to do is push your body to do more than it can because this can increase your risk of injury.
The Benefits Of Yoga For Seniors
Maintaining balance, flexibility, and strength is paramount as we age. Not only does this help maintain bone health and muscle mass, but it also helps to improve the mental state and emotional wellbeing. Anecdotal research has found that women in their sixties and seventies who practice yoga have fewer calcium deficiencies in bones than women who don’t do yoga. If you are a senior, you can practice the following poses to keep the body strong and beautiful.
An Important Note: You should not push the body to the point of discomfort. All yoga poses can be modified and you can always return to a comfortable position like child’s pose at any time. Keep that in mind as you move through the poses below.
Uttanasana – Standing Forward Fold
This is a mild inversion pose that intends to gently stretch the hamstrings. It may help ease stress and combat osteoporosis. Stand upright with your feet hip-distance apart. Take few deep breaths in this position and begin to fold forward until your forehead is facing your legs. Don’t bend your knees as you fold. If you can’t touch the floor, you can support yourself with yoga blocks.
Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog
This pose is beneficial for strengthening the shoulder muscles, calves, hamstrings, and more. Downward dog has been known to improve circulation and combat menopausal distress. Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Raise your knees up and sink back into your heels as best you can to establish an inverted “V” position. You can always bend your knees slightly if it becomes too difficult.
Virabhadrasana – Warrior 1 Pose
Strengthen your legs while simultaneously opening up the hips by engaging in Warrior 1 pose. Tight hips can lead to back pain, so create mobility in the hips and legs via this pose. From Downward Dog, bring your right knee into your chest and place your right food between your hands. Plant your left foot on the ground and turn it outward at a 45-degree angle. Slowly rise up, keeping the right leg bent, the left leg straight, and your hips facing forward. Extend your hands over your head and sink into the stretch. Repeat on the other leg.
Parsva Balasana – Bird Dog Pose
This pose is beneficial for abdominal, back, and hamstring support. Keeping the spine as healthy as possible is integral as we age, and Bird Dog pose can assist with this. Begin in a tabletop position with your hands on the ground beneath your shoulders and knees directly beneath your hips. Extend your right arm out in front of you while extending and lifting the left leg backwards. Engage your core to maintain your center of balance. Repeat on the other side.
Baddha Konasana – Bound Angle Pose
This pose works to target the lower back and hips, two common areas of pain for menopausal women. The goal is to open the hips in this pose, but it can take time so be patient. Sit down on your buttocks with your knees out to the sides and the soles of your feet touching near your groin. Make sure to sit tall and allow your knees to drop closer to the floor.
Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose
Give your back muscles a good stretch by practicing Cobra pose. Make sure to relax your shoulders in this pose and keep the tops your feet on the mat, being careful not to roll them out to the sides. Begin on the ground on your stomach and place your hands on the mat by your chest. Place the tops of your feet on the mat and push up until your arms are straight. If this is too difficult, you can modify the pose by keeping your forearms on the ground with your elbows near your chest. This still helps to strengthen and lengthen the back.