“Yoga doesn’t take time; it gives time.” This quote from yogi Gengar White sums up why so many seniors participate in yoga. If the idea of starting yoga as a senior is intimidating, don’t panic. Some gentle yoga poses for seniors are all you need.
Gentle Yoga Poses for Seniors
Do you think that yoga is for younger folks? Well, here’s a fact that might surprise you: one in five yoga practitioners in the United States are over the age of sixty. Senior yoga practitioners love yoga because it eases body pain, lowers blood pressure and stress levels, and can even help with anxiety and depression. If you’ve never done yoga before, you might be wondering how to get started. Consider these principles as you explore the world of yoga:
- You’re never too old to do yoga. Some people think yoga is just for the young, but that isn’t true. Yoga is an impactful and effective movement practice for all ages and ability levels, seniors included.
- Start where you are. Yoga is one of the most modifiable and flexible forms of exercise you can practice. When you’re starting it for the first time, be sure to ask about props like yoga bolsters, and focus on learning the basics first. And of course, talk to your doctor about any physical limitations or other issues you should be aware of.
- In yoga, stillness is effort. You may feel like you’re not working hard enough if you’re doing a “gentle” yoga pose. However, yoga is different than other forms of exercise. The less you’re doing to hold a pose, the more you’re able to focus on breathing and stretching, which is the actual goal. Taking it easy is how you know you’re doing it right.
Some Poses to Try
When you’re first starting out with yoga, it’s a good idea to work with basic poses first. Below are some of the most popular gentle yoga poses for seniors, along with tips for modifying them if need be. Why not give one a try?
Start in a tabletop position by settling on your hands and knees. Your knees should be under your hips, and your hands should be under your shoulders. Take a deep breath, and let the breath expand your stomach downwards. Allow your belly to drop by arching your back. Breathe out slowly, and round your back upwards as you do so. If this position is too difficult, modify it into a seated position, and practice this breathing pattern with your palms on your knees.
Sit on the ground with your back straight and legs straight out in front of you, Slowly bend your legs until the soles of your feet touch in front of you. Hold this pose for several deep breaths, and then release. You can modify this pose by reclining as you bring your legs together, or by sitting against a wall to provide back support.
Seated Spinal Twist
Sit in a neutral position with your back straight and your legs in front of you, or in Butterfly Pose. Breathe in, and extend your arms upwards. As you breathe out, twist to the left. Place your right hand on your left knee, and your left hand behind you. Reverse and repeat. This pose can be modified by performing it in a chair if needed.
Mountain to Palm Tree
Start in a standing position, with feet placed shoulder-width apart and hands at your sides. This is your “mountain pose.” Breathe and focus on balance. Once you feel steady, take a deep breath and lift your hands upwards, then interlock your fingers above your head. If you are able, lift your heels off the floor. Hold this pose for several deep breaths, then release. This pose can be modified by remaining seated, or using a nearby wall for balance.
Gentle yoga poses for seniors are a wonderful way to begin building a movement practice. Try a few of these poses in the morning after you get up, or to wind down before bed. You might also be interested in checking out our blog post Low-Impact Exercises for Seniors.
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