Health Benefits of Yoga for the Elderly

Having a sound mind and body is vital as you get older. Incorporating a proper diet, doing regular exercise, and having enough sleep are integral in maintaining one’s health, especially for senior adults.

What some may not know is that yoga can provide significant health benefits. It is a form of exercise that involves strengthening the body and the mind.

Unlike weightlifting or cardio exercises, yoga does not involve heavy stress on joint muscles, making it ideal for seniors.

This article provides a quick rundown of yoga’s benefits for seniors.

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1.   Improved balance

As people get older, the stability in their joint muscles weakens, leading to seniors being susceptible to falling. Yoga reinforces these muscles through abdominal exercises.

The poses and stretches involved in yoga do not put a heavy load on seniors, making it a recommended form of exercise. In addition, it is also a way to prevent senior diabetes as having a form of exercise keeps their body active and helps it use insulin efficiently. 

2.   Better flexibility

The movements in yoga emphasize stretching and posing to allow the body to relax. Alongside this is proper breathing.

While in a pose, a specific breathing pattern is followed. It involves holding one’s breath for a few seconds then slowly exhaling, allowing the muscles to loosen and relax, leading to a broader range of motion.

3.     Prevention of anxiety

Yoga is a practice where it encourages people to stay in the present. Its breathing exercises, followed by soothing music, allow for easier focus. It may also slow down one’s heart rate as the breathing exercise encourages long, deep breaths, followed by a slow exhale.

According to the National Institutes of Health, a survey showed that 85% of people engaging in yoga had reduced stress.

4.     Longer, quality sleep

Many seniors complain about having sleep disturbances. A study from the Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found that adults aged 60 and above who experienced insomnia participated in yoga twice a week. The result after three months showed better quality sleep with a longer duration.

Types of Poses and Yoga

Below are some suggestions of yoga poses that seniors can practice.

·       Butterfly Pose

·       Cat/Cow Pose

·       Tree Pose

·       Palm Tree Pose

·       Sphinx Pose

·       Corpse Pose

These poses can be difficult for some adults, but there are alternatives. Other recommendations for types of yoga include,

·       Chair Yoga (Using the chair as a prop)

·       Iyengar Yoga (Modified poses using props)

·     Yin Yoga (Longer durations in a yoga asana)

Helpful Tips Before Each Class

Before getting started, it is essential to remember a few things to make yourself comfortable.

·       Wear comfortable, fitted clothing that can stretch. This allows for easier transitions between poses.

·       Bring a mat. Many poses revolve around having a mat.

·       Carry a towel to help wipe off sweat and increase your grip.

·       Wear non-slip yoga socks for better grip as well.

·       Have a light snack before the class.

·        Do not push yourself too hard.

Summing It Up

Yoga provides plenty of benefits for everyone. It can play a significant role for seniors, providing the necessary exercise to help them keep a healthy lifestyle.

Know that doing yoga does not have to be an everyday routine. Joining a few classes throughout the week can still provide benefits and is a great way to keep both mind and body in tip-top shape.

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