Best Yoga Positions For Elderly Individuals
YOGA for SENIORS
Yoga for the Elders
Yoga is a very versatile form of physical and mental exercise that is able to cater to the needs of different age groups and fitness level. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising to see older individuals studying or practicing yoga. In fact, a new philosophy of yoga is even dedicated for older students, which includes milder exercises suited for their delicate bodies.
Ageing is an inevitable process that all humans have to undergo. But because of this aging process, the different parts and muscles of the body degrade in their performance as well. Therefore, yoga proves quite beneficial in enhancing its performance or curing various ailments that comes as a result of these natural processes of the body.
Read more below on how you can deal with these physical limitations and what yoga positions are suitable for older students to get the most out of their yoga practice.
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Benefits of Yoga
As much as yoga is naturally beneficial in its approach and methods, the same can also be said with older people practicing yoga. The benefits could be more profound but you also have to be careful in choosing what poses are to be executed to avoid damaging their delicate bones or causing further complications.
Here are some ways wherein yoga might be an ideal physical activity that for senior individuals:
- On the onset of old age, individuals become more vulnerable to illness. As their immune system breaks down and they lose muscle and skeletal flexibility, they are bound to experience more pain and other related physical conditions. Performing yoga poses will help them with pain management and cope with such conditions.
- In addition to better physical and fitness level, yoga also improves stability and balance. This will help reduce the possibility of falling or suffering from any accidents that could prove fatal.
- Performance of certain yoga exercises could massage the internal organs of the body and improve overall health and organ function.
- The mere act of engaging in yoga helps boost their level of self confidence, which can be mostly credited to their physical improvement.
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Important Reminders During Execution of Asanas
The muscles of old or aged individuals are not too flexible, which therefore puts them at risk of easily acquiring injuries or pains with extensive movements. Hence, expert yogis suggest that elders stick with milder forms of exercises to avoid putting too much pressure on their bodies. To ensure their safety, you need to keep in mind the following safety reminders when performing yoga positions:
- It is best to stick with traditional and basic yoga exercises that are not too challenging, but are beneficial enough for elders.
- If you are practicing yoga to treat a specific area of the body, choose yoga positions carefully such that that specific area is targeted during the execution.
- Since yoga for elders is considered a special case given their special needs, always go for skilled and knowledgeable yoga teachers.
- Provide proper instruction in the execution of each pose and the sequences involved to ensure that it is well-executed and follows a smooth continuous flow.
- Some yoga positions require a particular period of time wherein you must hold that position in order to experience its benefits. With elders practicing yoga, it is advised that you reduce the amount of time needed to perform each pose to avoid putting too much strain on specific muscle groups of the body.
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Most Suitable Positions for Elders
If you were to compare a 60-year old male to 30-year old one, then there is a huge disparity between the fitness and physical level of the two. This then gives you the idea that you cannot expect a 60-year yogi to perform the same complex and intense poses as a 30-year old does. In fact, milder forms of yoga exercises are recommended to avoid putting too much strain on the muscles, joints, and ligaments.
Here are some yoga poses known to be suitable for elders given that they are gentle, relaxing, and very effective.
This is one of the most relaxing pose in yoga. Therefore, it is ideal for elders to perform and yet the benefits are quite significant. The corpse pose is an integral part during each yoga session as it is often used to transition from one pose to another or to provide relaxation after each session.
Here are the steps to performing Corpse Pose or Savasana:
- Start on a supine position with your back against the floor or yoga mat. Keep your arms and legs relaxed, approximately a few inches away from the sides of your body.
- Make sure that your back is completely flat against the floor before attempting to raise your knee toward the chest area. This motion will help stretch your back muscles.
- Hold this position for a few seconds before returning to your starting position.
- To go back to standing position, curl yourself like a ball by bringing up both knees toward your chest. Then, roll to your side so you can get on your knees. From there, standing up should be easy.
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One of the distinct advantages of performing the Cat Pose is the ability to combine your physical movements with breathing exercises. Since breathing affects both mind and body, this will optimize the benefits that the older students of yoga can get.
Here are the procedures to performing Cat Pose:
- Begin this position on all fours. Take note of proper alignment in your back, arms, and hips. Make sure that the arms are directly straight to the floor and your hips are properly aligned against your knees.
- Your head must be ducked low, such that you can see the floor from your position without moving your head.
- Start to inhale. As you inhale, notice your chest to ensure that it goes high. Then, lower your chest as you breathe air out.
- Repeat the entire process for as many times as you want.
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Dog Pose is another beneficial but milder form of yoga position, which makes it suitable for older yoga students to practice on a regular basis. To perform the Dog Pose or Mukha Shvanasana, take note of the following procedures:
- Like the Cat Pose, you will begin on all fours. You will do this as if to mimic the natural position of a dog.
- When you assume this starting position though, make sure that your back, shoulders, and hips are properly aligned.
- When you start your inhalation exercise, vary your stance a little bit. During inhalation, arch your back to assume a “U-shaped” position. Your belly must also dip lower towards the floor while your head is turned upwards toward the ceiling. Avoid arching your head extensively upwards.
- While planted in position, place pressure on your hands and make sure that only your feet and hands touch the ground.
Dog pose is very useful increasing supply of oxygen-rich blood in your brain.