Beginning Yoga for Seniors

Beginning Yoga for Seniors

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Seniors can use props, including the wall or small cushions, to make poses easier.

Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

It's true that some yoga classes are filled with toned, tough twenty-somethings twisting their bodies into pretzels and performing acrobatic-like handstands. But seniors can also benefit from yoga, which improves strength, balance, flexibility and general well-being. If you're a senior who is just starting out with yoga, stick to beginning classes to learn some of the fundamental poses and transitions. Depending on your fitness level and goals, you might eventually transition to more challenging classes.

Benefits of Beginning Yoga

You don't need to do a strenuous practice in order to benefit from yoga. Using the body's weight as natural resistance, you'll be able to develop stronger bones. Practicing balancing postures could help you prevent slips and falls during usual activities in daily life, and learning breathing or meditation techniques could help you reduce stress or depression, according to an article on the Huffington Post website. As an added benefit of practicing yoga, some seniors develop friendships with other students who regularly attend the same class, thereby creating a sense of community and belonging.

Beginning Standing Poses

For Warrior II pose, stand with your feet about three feet apart and your right knee bent to the right side at a 90-degree angle. Keep your right foot pointing to the right; your left foot should be placed at a 45-degree angle. Extend your right arm forward and your left arm back. While keeping your core activated and looking over your right arm, take five deep breaths. Switch sides to take Warrior II on the left side. In tree pose, press your right foot into the ground and bring your left foot to rest comfortably near your right ankle, along your right shin or along the inside of your right thigh. Keep your core activated, and bring your palms together at your chest. Breathe deeply and then switch sides.

Beginning Floor Poses

Seniors can try transitioning between cat and cow pose. To begin this series, kneel on all fours with your wrists placed directly beneath your shoulders on the floor. Take an inhale, lifting your upper chest, head and tailbone toward the ceiling. Transition to cat pose by exhaling, tucking your chin into your chest and rounding through your spine as you tuck your tailbone. In plank pose, place both hands on your mat directly beneath your shoulders. Extend your legs behind you, pressing the balls of your toes into the mat. Keep your core engaged and take five breaths. For an easier pose, drop one or both knees for support.

Adjustments and Modifications

Seniors can make modifications during their yoga class in order to participate safely. During balancing poses, seniors can lean up against the wall or a chair for additional support. A foam block placed beneath the legs, at the bottom of the spine or between the knees can provide support in other poses. Pillows and bolsters can also make poses more comfortable. Seniors can take extra breaks during class as necessary. For example, you might rest in child's pose during portions of class when other students are completing more vigorous sun salutations. If you're looking for gentler classes, avoid classes titled “power yoga” or “vinyasa,” since these tend to be harder.


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