The beauty of yoga is that it can be adapted to an individual’s needs. Practices can range from physically demanding Power yoga to gentle chair yoga. As mobility issues and chronic conditions can impact different forms of fitness, low-impact, gentle yoga is a great option for older adults.
Benefits of Yoga for Seniors:
1. Helps to improve physical health. Yoga is a great practice to help improve strength, balance, and flexibility. As we age, the range of motion in our joints tends to decrease, as well as strength and mobility. By building up functional fitness through gentle yoga poses, you can decrease risk of falls, lower back pain, and osteoporosis. Yoga also helps to reduce high blood pressure.
2. Improves sleep. Practicing yoga regularly can help alleviate sleep disturbances, which are a common complaint amongst the older adult population. Studies have shown that engaging in a regular yoga practice leads to improvements in duration and overall quality of sleep.
3. Enhances lung capacity. For those with respiratory issues such as bronchitis and COPD, yoga can be useful in putting symptoms and bay. As yoga often focuses on breath practice, or pranayama, it can help to strengthen muscles used in respiration and increase lung capacity.
4. Improves mental health. Research has shown that regularly practicing yoga can lower the stress hormone cortisol, leading to reduced stress, anxiety, and lower chance of depression. Through mindful breathing techniques and meditation, yoga offers a greater sense of peace and focus on the present moment.
5. Provides social opportunity. Staying social as you age is important. Research has shown engaging in social interaction as a senior decreases risk of chronic illnesses and reduces risk of developing dementia. Yoga is a great opportunity to get out and mingle and provide a sense of community with others. Seniors can also practice at-home yoga with the help of our Happier at Home caregivers, who can provide gentle support as they stretch, or even participate with them!
How to Start Practicing:
There are a multitude of ways that yoga can be adapted to an older adult’s exercise routine and fitness goals.
1. Chair: Chair yoga is a great option for those who are limited by their physical mobility or balance issues. Staying seated while going through a modified version of traditional yoga poses ensures that even frail seniors or those with limited flexibility can safely do the exercise.
2. Hatha: Hatha yoga involves a slow-paced series of sitting and standing poses. This type of yoga focuses on stretching and breathing through more static poses, rather than a more difficult Vinyasa or Ashtanga flow.
3. Yin: Yin yoga encompasses breathing techniques and stretches that are held for long periods of time. Stretching deep connective tissues can help relieve stiffness and improve flexibility.
4. Restorative: Restorative yoga is aimed at cultivating a deeper sense of peace and relaxation by releasing tension with passive stretching. This type of yoga often uses the support of props such as blankets, blocks, and bolsters. Through these supporting tools, poses are held for long periods of time almost effortlessly.
These types of yoga are suitable for the senior population because of their slower pace, and are more gentle on your joints than other types of yoga.
Yoga is a practice that can also be adapted to an individual’s place of residence. An older adult’s home may be the place where they feel most comfortable, and can be adapted to their level of mobility. Clear an open space where you can set a yoga mat or chair. Our Happier at Home caregivers can pull up a routine on YouTube and enjoy the practice together!
A regular exercise routine can improve your quality of life and help to remain independent. Whether you want to remain in your home or try an older-adult friendly yoga class, Happier at Home can help to adapt to your individual physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Contact us today!