You’ve done the whole mall walking thing. Sure, it’s a great way to keep moving and get in your steps — but is it the best exercise for this stage of your life? Maybe not.
If you feel like you want to branch out to a practice that provides more benefits as you move into your golden years, then perhaps you should consider yoga.
Keep reading to find out why yoga is good for aging adults as well as ten of the biggest benefits of yoga for seniors.
• Is Yoga Good for Older Adults?
• Top 10 Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
• Contact a Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi Location Near You to Learn More About the Benefits of Yoga for Senior Citizens
As you age, it’s important to continue physical activity for many reasons.
Some people may think of yoga as a thin yogi in tights, doing a headstand or twisting into the shape of a pretzel. But yoga can actually be a great way for seniors to exercise and achieve wellness because people with varying abilities and mobility levels can perform it
At Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi, we love having seniors in our yoga classes. Our sessions are designed to enhance your …
• Breathing; and
… in a way that works best for you.
Our yoga classes offer a variety of exercises and poses which help keep your practice fun and dynamic, while consistently covering the basics. If you’re new to yoga or have trouble with anything we’re doing, we can show you how to modify your routine in a way that most benefit your mind and body.
As with any exercise regimen, you may want to check with your doctor before beginning yoga for the first time as a senior citizen.
So yoga is good for you. But how, exactly? And specifically, what are the benefits of yoga for seniors?
Let’s take a look at the eleven biggest ways that practicing yoga can improve the quality of life for older adults.
Exercise, in general, is great for stress reduction. But yoga, in particular, is a fantastic way for seniors to lower their stress levels. With its combination of low-impact exercises and breathing techniques, yoga can have a relaxing effect on the entire body as well as the mind.
In fact, a study has shown that older adults who practiced yoga had more stress reduction over time than those who participated in other forms of exercise.
Since stress can cause tension in the body — specifically the neck, back, and shoulders — having a routine that helps release this tension will not only help seniors feel better physically but may lead to a sense of improved overall wellness.
• Movement, and
… that work together to get you in a better headspace and create an overall feeling of well-being.
There is evidence that yoga has mood-enhancing properties. This is partly because of the ways it inhibits both physiological stress and inflammation. It also boosts levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps calm nerves.
But another reason that yoga benefits seniors by improving mood is the simple fact that it’s a group activity. Many seniors may live alone or find it difficult to socialize as much as they used to, and meeting up with other people in a yoga class can substantially boost their moods.
Since some seniors begin to suffer from feelings of isolation and anxious thinking as they move into the unknown later stages of their lives and often have to deal with increased illness, having a simple way to lift their mood — like attending a yoga class twice a week — is a big reason that yoga is good for older adults.
Yoga can improve posture for people of all ages, but senior adulthood is a time when good posture is at risk from a variety of factors. One study showed that women over 50 experienced improved spine flexibility after practicing yoga just once a week for five months.
1. It helps with core strength. When the core muscles of the body are strong, they are better able to hold the spine in alignment
2. It can strengthen bones. As we age, our risk of osteoporosis and low bone density increases. Brittle and weak bones can’t hold the body up as well. The weight-bearing aspects of yoga slow this, which also helps with good posture.
3. It creates greater awareness of the body. Through yoga’s focus on the body and the breath, seniors can begin to feel more in control of their bodies — which makes them more likely to stand tall confidently.
As we age, our quality of sleep often deteriorates. Older adults are more susceptible to insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Studies have shown that one of the benefits of yoga for senior citizens is improved sleep quality after just six months of practice.
So how does this work? There is evidence that because the stretching and relaxing of muscles involved in yoga take a good deal of mental focus and physical exertion, it leads to:
• Less sleep latency
• More deep sleep
• Fewer sleep disturbances; and
• More efficient slee
Although joint flexibility tends to decrease with age, it doesn’t have to be that way. Yoga is usually practiced in gentle, stretching motions that work to promote greater flexibility.
One study points to the fact that not only does practicing yoga improve flexibility in the elderly over time, but it also does this better than other types of exercise.
Falls are a threat to senior citizens’ health and can reduce independence. Older adults who have lost balance over the years may become afraid to venture out or even move freely around their homes due to fear of falling.
And this concern isn’t without cause. The CDC reports that three million older people visit the emergency room due to fall-related injuries each year.
But this isn’t an inevitable part of the cycle of life.
There are proven ways to prevent and reduce falls, and yoga is one of them. That’s because slow, measured movements can lead to better balance.
Practicing yoga which emphasizes standing tall with balance can not only build strength. It can also build confidence in your ability to move about as you wish without falling.Consider yoga practice as a way to enhance your ability to move through your day more safely.
Reduced risk of falling and better mobility go hand in hand. As you improve your balance, you feel confident in your movements.
Yoga is good for older adults because it is known to improve mobility.
Stiff muscles and joints are common among senior citizens, but practicing yoga can gently support your range of motion. Yoga can loosen and strengthen muscles, making it easier to get around.
Even the most gentle yoga can still strengthen your body. Because yoga uses a combination of gravity and your own body weight, it can help build lean muscle to make you stronger.
A study has been published in The Journals of Gerontology that shows yoga is as good as other stretching and strengthening exercises in improving functional fitness.
But we say it’s better because yoga is not just physical exercise - through mental focus and breathwork, it also helps you calm your mind and feel refreshed.
Humans are social creatures, but often people find themselves increasingly isolated as they get older. As we touched on briefly earlier in this article, one big benefit of yoga for seniors is that it provides an outlet for social interactions.
At Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi, you’ll be able to make friends of all ages in our classes. If you’re interested in groups where there’s a higher concentration of senior adults, we can point you in the right direction.
Not only is attending yoga classes a great way to get out of the house and meet new people but thinking of it as a social opportunity also helps you stay motivated to exercise.
A big part of yoga is focusing on your breathing and listening to your body. Looking inward in this way helps you become more mindful and aware of yourself.
• Thoughts, and
As you practice looking inward and become more connected to yourself, you may also find that you make greater connections with the people and world around you.
Some forms of yoga have also been shown to have positive effects on brain health, which may help combat the cognitive decline often experienced by seniors. It can keep your mind focused and sharp when practiced regularly.
• Physical condition, or
• Experience level
• Energy balancing
• Breathwork, and
Our classes combine elements from a variety of Eastern practices to enhance your physical and mental well-being while boosting energy levels. If you’d like to take advantage of the benefits of yoga for seniors that we have discussed here, contact us today.