Yoga and Aging
Are you too old for yoga?
The answer to this question is ‘no.’ There is no such thing as being ‘too old for yoga.’
Many people have the misconception that yoga is meant for those who are younger and who have been practicing for a long time. However, this is not the case. Yoga is meant to be a practice that can benefit anybody of any age and prior experience. Yoga is a low impact practice, and any pose can be modified to fit each person’s individual needs.
Did you know that practicing yoga can lead to benefits after just twenty minutes?
As we age, our bodies go through a lot of changes, and yoga offers may benefits to combat some of these. Yoga promotes mobility, balance, healthy joints, flexibility, mindfulness, and so much more while decreasing chronic pain and discomfort. These benefits can begin to be seen after just twenty minutes of practicing.
For this reason, everybody should be practicing yoga.
There are many different types of yoga practices to choose from, and this makes it possible to find the best version for you and your abilities. There are even practices that can be done while sitting in a chair. This is known as chair yoga, and it is a great option for anybody who needs a little bit of extra support or who might be a little bit older. Want to check out our chair yoga program, Yoga Start? Click here.
You are never too old to practice yoga.
6 Yoga Poses that are Great for All Ages
If you find that some yoga poses are too difficult for you due to age, the good news is that there are so many more to choose from that can be accessible for you. Below, we will go over six poses that age well and are great for seniors. These poses are wonderful for increasing mobility in the joints, strengthening the muscles, and enhancing flexibility and balance.
Try out the six poses below to get your practice started, and remember that no matter what age you are, yoga is for you.
All of the poses below can also be done while using a chair for support.
1. Cat/Cow- These poses are great for stretching out and opening up the back of the body. This promotes mobility in the spine and hips while decreasing pain. This pose is usually done on the hands and knees, but it can also be done while sitting in a chair. If you do decide to do this pose on the hands and knees and have weaker joints, you can always use a pad or roll the edge of your mat beneath your knees for support. To do cat cow, as you inhale, you will arch your back and look up to the sky, and as you exhale, you will round the back. Continue to flow through these poses, linking them with the breath, and repeat the movements at least five to ten times. You can see how to do this while sitting in a chair in the video below.
2. Warrior I- This pose takes a bit more effort, but using a chair to do this pose can definitely help to support you. Warrior I is a great pose for opening up the hips, increasing mobility in the legs, and strengthening the muscles of the lower body. To do this pose, step the feet about four to five feet apart from one another. Turn one foot away from you and one foot in at about forty-five degrees. From here, bend the knee of the leg facing away from you, ensuring that the knee does not go over the toes, and keep the back leg straight. Stacking the spine, inhale to bring the arms up above you, and exhale to keep the muscles engaged. Hold This pose for about five breaths before inhaling to come out of it and repeat it on the other side.
You can also try this while holding on to a chair for support, or you can do it while sitting down. If you choose to do this pose while sitting, bring the legs out to the sides and bend one knee, turning the toes of that foot away from you. Straighten the other leg and turn those toes in. From here, turn your upper body towards the bent knee and extend the arms up. You can also hold onto the chair with one hand if you need to for balance.
3. Standing Wide Leg Forward Fold- This is another great pose for increasing hip mobility. To do this pose, step the feet all the way out to the sides as far as you comfortably can, engage the muscles of the thighs, and fold forwards from the hips, letting the upper body hang down. If you suffer from high blood pressure or glaucoma, do not fully invert yourself. In this situation, you would only fold halfway. You can also hold onto the chair for support here or you can sit in a chair and bring your feet out to the sides and you fold between the legs. You can also use yoga blocks to rest your hands on for support instead if you’d like. Hold this pose for at least ten breaths or as long as it feels good for you. Inhale to rise back up.
4. Crescent Moon Pose (Side Stretch)- This is a great stretch for the sides of the body and is great for mobility. You can do this stretch while standing or sitting. Start by reaching the arms up above you and bringing the hands together on the inhale. It is recommended to use a strap here between the hands, or you can place the hands together. As you exhale, lean over to the side, keeping the core engaged and the spine long. Hold this for a few breaths. Inhale to rise back up and exhale to come over to the other side, again, holding for a few breaths. Repeat as many times as you would like.
5. Chair Pose- If you are looking to strengthen the muscles of the lower body and work on balance, this can be a great pose for you. To do chair pose, start with the feet hip-width distance apart and bend into the knees, dropping the hips back. Keep your spine long and, as you inhale, bring your arms up at an angle. As you exhale, sink deeper into the stretch. You can also use a block between the thighs here if you need. You can also hold onto the back of a chair for support here. Hold this pose for about five breaths or as long as you would like, and then inhale to rise back up.
6. Downward Facing Dog- This pose stretches the entire body and strengthens the muscles in the limbs, back, and core. To do this pose, start on the hands and knees and tuck your toes, inhaling to press your knees up, and exhaling to press the hips back. If you cannot keep your spine long here, try bending into the knees to do so. Do not force the heels to the ground. For sore wrists, you can roll the edge of the mat beneath the hands. For more support in this pose, you can use a chair and start by standing as you inhale and folding forwards to bring the hands to the chair on the exhale, keeping the spine long. Hold for about five breaths or as long as you would like and inhale to come back up.
To learn more about yoga for seniors, and to check out our Yoga Vitality program, click here.