There’s a stereotype when it comes to yoga: It’s a trendy fitness fad for the young who can contort their bodies with relative ease. While yoga is gaining popularity in America, it’s not just for the young. Yoga is good for people of all ages and fitness levels, including seniors.
Yoga is essentially a series of poses that focus on balance and alignment, combined with breathing exercises. This type of exercise may be especially beneficial for seniors, as studies show yoga aids in combating stress, fatigue and body pain and improves your overall quality of life. An added bonus for seniors is that yoga poses build core strength and balance, which can reduce the risk of falling-related injuries.
According to the Yale University School of Medicine, adding three days of yoga and meditation to your weekly routine may reduce your risk of heart disease.
How Do You Start a Yoga Regime?
First thing’s first: Like any other fitness plan, you should talk with your doctor before starting. People who have spinal disk problems or glaucoma should take more caution and stay away from poses that require twists or inversions.
Next, pick the type of yoga you’d like to do. Your doctor may even be able to help you with this. If you’re just starting a fitness regime, have lost muscle tone and flexibility, or want a beginner’s look into the world of yoga, hatha is a great place to start. Hatha is a gentle, slower-paced form of yoga. There is no flow between poses and classes usually consist of stretching poses mixed with breathing exercises.
Another form of yoga popular among seniors is Iyengar. This is a variation of hatha yoga that focuses on the body’s alignment in poses and uses props, like blocks, to attain the perfect alignment. Many Iyengar studios offer classes specifically for seniors.
A third type of yoga many seniors opt for is Viniyoga. This is an extremely adaptable form of yoga, which is good for those with physical limitations. While this is a more gentle form of yoga, its adaptability allows you to grow and move on to more challenging poses as you continue to gain strength and balance.
Now that you’ve talked to a doctor and decided what kind of yoga is right for you, it’s time to find a class. Many senior groups, community centers and yoga centers offer classes specifically tailored for seniors. Once you find a class, check to see what you need to bring. Most yoga studios offer mats clients can use during class, but you’ll want to double check.
When beginning, it’s advised that you have an instructor to make sure you’re standing in poses correctly and to reduce the risk of injury. If there are no classes near you, there are numerous DVDs you can purchase to do yoga from home.
That’s it. Now you’re ready to stretch, balance and breathe.
Are there other exercises or yoga tips you find beneficial for seniors? Let us know in the comments below.