Yoga has countless mental and physical benefits for seniors. For one, it is a great exercise for strengthening muscles and improving balance and coordination. These are important aspects of health for older adults, because better balance and coordination and stronger muscles will prevent falls and injuries. Since yoga is great exercise, it also helps with osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, and many other chronic conditions. Yoga can also reduce your symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. It will help you feel calmer and increase your overall sense of well-being.
In this article, we will explore these and many more benefits of yoga for seniors. Next, we’ll give you some easy tips to begin your yoga practice as a senior citizen.
Physical Health Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
Here are just a few of yoga’s countless physical health benefits:
- Improved balance. Much of yoga focuses on different types of balance practice, which is beneficial for seniors. Improved balance means fewer falls, and fewer injuries.
- Improved flexibility. As we age, our muscles and joints tend to become stiffer. Improving your flexibility helps to keep your joints mobile and your muscles able to move.
- Better muscle tone. Yoga builds strength, which is important for seniors. Without regular exercise, you’re likely to lose muscle tone as you get older. This can have damaging effects on your metabolism, mobility, and overall strength.
- Improved coordination. This will also prevent falls and help you navigate your later years with grace.
- Improved cardiovascular health. Some forms of yoga include a cardio element, which is great for your heart health.
- Better sleep. Regular exercise, especially calming forms of exercise, have been shown to improve your sleep.
- Improved posture. As you increase your body awareness and learn about proper alignment, your posture is likely to improve. This will help with preventing and treating the back and neck problems many seniors are prone to.
Mental Health Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
Yoga isn’t just good for your physical health. It has far-reaching mental health benefits, too. Here are some examples:
- Fewer depressive symptoms. Yoga has been shown to have a positive effect at treating depressive disorders (3).
- Reduced anxiety and stress. (4) Studies have shown encouraging results that indicate yoga may help reduce your stress and anxiety levels.
- Mindfulness opportunities. Most yoga practices include an element of meditation or mindfulness, which can improve your mental health in many ways.
- Increased sense of overall well-being. As you continue to practice yoga, you might find more of an overall sense of wellness throughout your life.
Yoga for Seniors
Watching an experienced yogi do a handstand can make yoga appear really intimidating. However, yoga has its roots in much more subtle and basic movements. It’s a great exercise for both beginners and experienced exercisers alike. You can have a successful yoga practice no matter your age, current level of physical fitness, or limitations.
There are a few things to consider before beginning your yoga practice as an older adult. First of all, consider any mobility challenges you may be facing. For example, yoga can be challenging for those with bad backs, hips, and/or knees. Practicing yoga can actually help with any of these problems, but it would be best to begin at an in-person class, where an experienced teacher can help you modify poses and prevent further injury. Yoga also requires a high degree of flexibility. If you’re feeling stiff or “locked up,” yoga can help! Just make sure to start slow and don’t push any stretches to the point of pain. You’ll notice your flexibility improve the more you practice.
Getting Started with Yoga
Now that you’re ready to begin, it’s time to take the first step: a yoga class! For beginners, we do recommend an in-person class, as previously mentioned. It’s just the easiest way to make you feel secure and comfortable, and keep your joints safe. However, if you’ve had some yoga training in the past and have a good idea of proper alignment, and you don’t have any mobility limitations or injuries, you can begin your yoga practice from home. There are many free online yoga programs available on sites such as YouTube. We are partial to Sarah Beth Yoga or Yoga with Adriene. Both have short beginner videos that will help you ease into your daily practice.
Don’t Give Up!
Yoga can be a challenging exercise for senior beginners. However, the benefits are worth sticking with it. Remember, yoga doesn’t have to be a circus-level athletic endeavor. While handstands and arm balances look impressive, the true benefits of yoga have nothing to do with fancy tricks or physical appearance. Your physical health and mental health are intertwined in a thousand different ways, and yoga can positively impact both in a very positive cycle. For example, most yoga practices include meditation and mindfulness. Through this mental health practice, you’ll notice your physical stamina, flexibility, balance, and sense of calm improve as well. As your physical fitness improves, it’ll get easier to calm your breath and find your inner peace. This positive cycle has far-reaching benefits throughout the rest of your life.
Stellar Living hopes this helps you get started with yoga. Yoga has many physical and mental health benefits for seniors, and it’s well worth your time to give it a shot! Many of our senior living communities offer regular yoga classes. Tour a community near you today.