Yoga is a terrific practice for all ages. Senior yoga is no exception. Yoga can help reduce stress, improve your mood, increase circulation, help you sleep better, and even improve your heart health. If you’ve never done yoga, it can look intimidating (especially these difficult yoga poses). But it shouldn’t be.
The older you get, the more aches and pains you tend to feel. Your body tends to become less flexible, and you may begin to experience new joint pains from arthritis, past injuries, or other ailments. You need to eat well and exercise throughout your life because it can help reduce the aforementioned symptoms.
But once you reach a certain age, you may not be able to exercise like you used to. Sure, there are still 70-year-olds running marathons and participating in Iron Man Competitions, but that’s not the norm. Some seniors need their exercise routines to be more low-key, which is one of the reasons yoga is great for seniors.
Here are the top 5 reasons seniors should practice yoga.
5.) Yoga Reduces Back Pain
Back pain is a common senior ailment that yoga (and pilates) can help.
Yoga helps increase your core strength, which in turn decreases your back pain. One of the best yoga moves for back pain is the “Cat-Cow,” pictured above. This pose stretches your neck, shoulders, and torso and is akin to a backbend (but much easier).
In almost every single pose in yoga, the core is active. With constant reminders by the instructor to pull the belly in and keep the spine neutral, yoga is an excellent way to strengthen a key part of the human body.
When we are sedentary, we lose the alignment of our body that is crucial to spinal health. Yoga helps to realign the spine, increase the strength of our abdominal muscles, and dissipate the stress on the spine that comes from a weak core.
Another added benefit? You may finally achieve those six-pack abs.
4.) Yoga Improves Mental Clarity and Health
Do you suffer from insomnia? Anxiety? Stress? Yoga can help improve your mood. Yoga can help you achieve a better night’s sleep (which will leave you feeling more refreshed the next day) and help you become more mindful, less worried, and more refreshed.
Regular sleep alone can help increase mental clarity and health, and yoga helps to develop normal sleep patterns while also decreasing stress levels and raising self-esteem.
As we age, we are often made to feel like we must stay young and do everything we can to fight the clock. By doing yoga, we experience an attunement to our body that goes beyond simply shaping it and burning fat. We are shown how to listen to the signals of our body. This practice gives higher energy, helping us feel more independent and respectful of our abilities while appreciating ourselves for taking care of our body.
3.) Yoga Improves Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults in the United States, ranking higher than cancer and accidents. A healthy heart is essential for a long life, and fortunately, there are things you can do to keep your heart healthy and improve it if it’s not currently up to par.
Cardio activity such as running, biking, and swimming is a great way to keep your heart beating strong. Want something a bit more low impact? Try yoga!
By combining stretching, breathing, and cardio exercises, yoga can help strengthen your heart and lower your risk of heart disease as much as traditional exercise can.
Yoga increases systolic stroke volume and decreases cholesterol levels, appetite, fat mass, and resting heart rate. It also normalizes blood pressure. All of these things happen to directly affect the health of the heart, an organ that is crucial to keep healthy to live a long, healthy life.
See some specific yoga moves for heart health.
2.) It Increases (or Retains) Muscle Mass and Improves Balance
As you get old, you start to lose muscle mass. Aging brings on muscle mass deterioration as the hormones shift and become less active in muscle preservation and growth.
At Tufts University, a study involving 87- through 96-year-old seniors in a weight lifting program revealed a 300-percent increase in muscle tone. This returned to them the ability to be independent and able, something that cannot go underestimated in the senior population.
If you’re into weight lifting, you can build muscle mass. But if you want something with less of an impact, yoga can help as well! Yoga utilizes the whole body and strengthens all muscle groups during a well-rounded session.
Yoga can also help improve your balance. By helping you to retain your muscle mass, yoga will help improve your balance and help prevent falls, which is a common concern for the elderly. If you do still fall and become injured, yoga can also help you recover faster.
1.) It’s Gentle on the Joints
Perhaps the number one reason that yoga is great for seniors seeking a fitness routine is that it’s gentle on the joints. Have a bad back, bad knees, or arthritis? You’re not going to want to engage in high-impact routines. They will leave you sore and can aggregate your existing aches and pains, potentially causing a more serious injury.
Yoga is an excellent way to get your heart rate up while staying low-impact, meaning that it won’t stress the joints. The individual has full control over the degree of stretching and the pace.
As you age, you tend to become more in tune with the pain sensations, so you’ll be more likely to take it easy in the flow and poses while not feeling self-conscious for doing so considering yoga is a non-competitive, accepting exercise.
Are you a senior that has discovered these top 5 benefits of senior yoga? If not, try a class or two to see what you think.