A yoga practice is great for any age, from children to older adults. You are never too young or old to start practicing yoga. With its many benefits, it is no surprise that yoga has recently become popular among senior citizens. It improves strength and balance, increases flexibility and range of motion in the joints, lowers blood pressure, and helps to relieve stress.
Falls in the senior population are a cause for concern, especially since they can lead to many complicated injuries like broken hips, concussions, or other head/neck traumas. Building overall strength and working specifically on balance sharply decreases the risk of a fall. Yoga accomplishes this by building muscle throughout the entire body, and intentionally working the muscles associated with balance - specifically the abs, lower back, glutes, thighs, pelvic floor, calves and ankles.
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Having worked with a variety of senior populations, I have seen the improvement first hand in members age 55 plus. Standing postures improve strength in the entire lower body and teach members to distribute their weight evenly in their feet. Balance postures do the obvious and improve balance by again teaching weight distribution, and strengthening the core, legs, feet, and ankles. Seated postures improve range of motion in the hips and spine to allow for better movement patterns. Prone and supine stretches grant the body full support for a greater variety of stretches.
Even seniors that have difficulty standing can participate in a chair yoga class where they can still receive the major benefits of yoga in a way that works for them. Postures can be performed while seated in the chair or standing next to the chair and holding on for support. Chair yoga classes are also a great therapy for members recovering from injuries or surgeries, or just those looking to do a gentle yoga class.
Joining a yoga class, whether virtual or in-person, also helps seniors to be part of a community of like-minded individuals who can offer support, accountability, and friendship. Isolation can be a problem for senior citizens, and can have negative affects on both mental and physical health, so having group support can go a long way in making members more healthy.
If you are a senior, consider joining a yoga class, or encourage the senior in your life to consider joining a class. Watch the improvements as they benefit your health and life!