One of the things we love most about Yoga (and Pilates for that matter) is how it is beneficial and accessible for all ages. In fact, we have Members who are 70+ as well as kids joining our online classes.
Of course, not all classes are going to suit older adults, for example, we would never recommend Ashtanga Yoga or HIIT Pilates to someone who hasn’t been exercising for a long period of time.
However, we would recommend beginner Yoga, Chair Yoga or a Yin Yoga class. It’s all about figuring out where you (or your loved one) is at and going from there.
From all of our training, as well as experience, we strongly believe that older adults looking for a safe way to enhance their mental and physical health and quality of life could look to Yoga.
We know that many aged care facilities offer Yoga classes for seniors and Chair Yoga as part of their weekly activities (this is amazing!). There are also Online Yoga Classes for seniors specifically suitable for certain levels of mobility and strength (like our Yin Yoga classes inside MerryBody!).
300 million people (and this number is growing!) practise Yoga world wide, it really makes us excited that Yoga is becoming more and more known and loved.
As we mentioned above, we know that many of our older members love the slower Yin Yoga classes available inside MerryBody. They also love the Fusion classes of strength building Pilates and slow flow Hatha Yoga.
Everyone is different and has led a different life and lifestyle, which makes it even more important to check in with you or your loved one’s abilities before beginning any new physical practice. That could be checking in with yourself, or with a medical professional.
What about the benefits of Yoga for seniors?
In this post we’re talking about the Asana, Meditation and Breathwork aspects of Yoga.
In a nutshell, flowing and holding Yoga poses and learning these ancient breathing exercises can:
- improve strength
- improve flexibility
- normalize blood pressure
- strengthen the upper body
- actually strengthen the entire body!
- improve the core strength
- calm the nervous system
- reduce chronic pain
- improve the range of motion within joints
- and so much more.
The Mind Body Connection
Practicing Yoga will cultivate a mind body connection by combining stretching and strengthening postures with relaxation and deep breathing.
The beauty of Yoga is that all of the Yoga poses can easily be adjusted and modified according to the individual’s needs. This makes Yoga ideal for older adults of different ability levels.
Within our classes we always offer progression and regression options. As an example you might see Carla, our resident Yoga Teacher in a Downward Facing Dog but Emma showing the option in Child’s Pose. Or check out this tutorial for more examples of modifications…
Whatever Yoga class you choose, we encourage you to find one with a Yoga instructor who provides options and brings a focus to technique. This is a core value of our Online Studio, MerryBody. It’s why we are present inside our online community every day, offering advice on technique and modifications.
Improved Breathing Patterns
Practicing Yoga can include breathing and meditation exercises, which can expand lung capacity and improve pulmonary health. This can be especially beneficial for seniors that have preexisting lung-related conditions. What’s happening is that as you learn and practise these breathing techniques, the muscles between the ribs expand which in turn provides more ‘space’ for the lungs.
Stronger and Healthier Bones
As we age, brittle bones and osteoporosis are more common. This is because our cells are regenerating at a lower rate than when we were young. It has been shown that a consistent Yoga routine can increase bone density.
Many Yoga Poses, especially standing poses, will help build core strength. The simple practice of standing on one leg will improve your balance too, which in turn, improve your balance off the mat. This is important as it can help reduce the risk of falls and injuries.
Improved Strength and Flexibility
Yoga is a combination of flowing movement as well as isometric holds. This is where you might find yourself in a Warrior II for 5 deep breaths. These types of body weight and resistance movements can improve strength and flexibility, increase range of motion within joints and simply make you and your loved ones feel comfortable with every day movement.
It really is: move it or lose it.
Simply, movement of the body is essential to feel well physically and mentally.
Reduced Anxiety and Stress
Meditation and mindful breathing, which are all part of a Yoga practice, encourage the mind to focus on the present and find peace. This presence practice has been shown to lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
If Dementia or Alzheimers is part of your loved one’s life, then you would know that sometimes confusion of the mind can occur (both our Grandma and Grandpa suffer from Dementia and Alzheimers). It has been said that encouraging a breathing practice can really help with lowering the stress and anxiety of these illnesses.
The Best Types of Yoga for Senior Citizens
There are many different styles and types of Yoga, whether that be traditional Yoga or Yoga with a modern twist, which can make it pretty tough to figure out which type is most appropriate for older adults and their needs.
But, no worries, we have narrowed the search down for you! Some of the best types of Yoga for seniors are:
Hatha Yoga Slow Flow
Hatha Yoga is not a specific Yoga style but a generic term that encompasses all forms of Yoga that concentrate on physical poses and postures. Look for Yoga classes that are described as slow flow or restorative.
We have a class focussed on the upper body and stretching it out, it’s called Desk Worker Yoga. It’s a more slow flow class and great for someone who is able to get on to the ground and back up again.
So roll out your Yoga mat, you can sign up here for instant access!
Chair Yoga offers an excellent and extremely safe way for older adults to get the health benefits of Yoga, no matter their level of ability. Chair Yoga makes physical activity accessible to more people by allowing the yogi to stay seated while doing Yoga. It’s perfect for people who may have limited strength and mobility in the legs, limited balance or those who are unable to sit on the ground. We actually have a class available here for you to try…
Yin Yoga is perfect for those who are looking to cultivate relaxation and contentment, as it is a slow, meditative form of Yoga designed to release tension passively from the body. In Yin Yoga, poses are held for a long time, sometimes up to five or even ten minutes, and props can be used to support the body.
As we mentioned, Yin Yoga would be a top favourite of not just our older members, but ALL of our MerryBody Members. That’s because we all want to feel more peace, more contentment, more bliss.
If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out. Otherwise, we will see you on the mat!
Emma + Carla
Ps. don’t forget to sign up to our Free Yoga Class over here. It’s just under 20 minutes and you’ll feel amazing after!