By 2050, two billion individuals will be over 60, a 100% increase from 2020. Every person in every country should be able to live a long and healthy life, and yoga can help with that.
Many people associate yoga with activities that improve balance and develop flexibility. It is, however, much more than that. Yoga lessons include breathing techniques, relaxation, and meditation, enhancing a person’s health and well-being. It is an excellent physical activity for seniors because it is low-impact, can be changed with props to accommodate differing abilities, and may be started at any age.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON SENIOR ISSUES?
Two women practising yoga for seniorsArthritis: Arthritis is the swelling and pain of joints that usually worsens with age. Chronic arthritic diseases are diagnosed in 49.6% of patients aged 65 and more. Women are more likely to be affected than men.
Cardiovascular health: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for an estimated 31% of all deaths. It claims around 17.9 million lives annually, with two-thirds of these occurring in people over 70.
Dementia: “Dementia” refers to disorders that damage memory and other cognitive abilities. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60% to 70% of these cases. As a result, it is the most frequent type of dementia in the general population. It is most common in people over the age of 65. Dementia affects around 50 million people globally.
Physiological changes: Sarcopenia and osteopenia are two of the most common age-related physiological illnesses. Sarcopenia refers to age-related muscle loss, whereas osteopenia refers to age-related bone loss. These diseases can impair strength, endurance, and speed. Muscle and bone loss vary by individual, depending on exercise level, nutrition, and other factors. Both sarcopenia and osteopenia enhance people’s risk of falling and injury.
Social isolation: Many older folks, particularly those who live alone, face social isolation as they age. According to one study, older persons who are lonely or isolated are 59% more likely to have a decline in their physical and mental health. 45% are at a higher risk of dying sooner. Furthermore, another study discovered that chronic loneliness is as risky as being an alcoholic or smoking fifteen cigarettes daily.
SENIORS’ YOGA CAN HELP SOLVE OR PREVENT THESE PROBLEMS.
Yoga, fortunately, is a comprehensive method that can help avoid and address these disorders. Here’s how it’s done:
Arthritis: A 2014 research of 36 female participants with knee osteoarthritis found that those who practised yoga improved significantly. Those who did not practice yoga saw no improvement. Yoga is a low-impact workout that improves and stretches tight muscles while testing balance abilities. It alleviates joint discomfort while enhancing mobility and function.
Cardiovascular health: Deep and slow breathing is encouraged in yoga for elders, which may lower blood pressure. According to research, daily yoga reduces blood pressure by five points on average after a few months. Furthermore, the features of meditation and relaxation that yoga encourages aid in stress reduction through increasing emotional resilience. Stress harms the cardiovascular system by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and the production of stress hormones. Yoga activities help to activate the rest-and-digest response, which allows you to be less reactive to stressful events and avoid experiencing these extreme feelings. Even 90 minutes of yoga practice can significantly reduce stress.
Cognitive impairment: We must allow our brains to rest to improve our memory. Yoga gives your brain the relaxation needed to maintain memory while lowering your chances of moderate cognitive impairment.
Physiological changes: Yoga is great for treating sarcopenia and osteopenia symptoms by increasing muscle. While it may become more challenging as we age, it is still possible and necessary. Yoga can help you retain your strength and even build muscle. Furthermore, mobility and weight-bearing workouts assist in maintaining bone health and avoid these physiological alterations.
Social isolation: The social benefits of participating in group seniors yoga courses regularly may assist persons in finding a purpose and avoiding feelings of isolation and loneliness. Being a part of a community may help you discover support and guidance from others on the same path as you. Social isolation can be dangerous, but it can easily be avoided by enrolling in a physical exercise class in which you will be held accountable for your participation.
BENEFITS IN GENERAL
The numerous advantages of yoga are evident. It has been named one of the greatest and most efficient kinds of exercise for older folks due to the numerous benefits it provides to their mental and physical health. These include lowering stress, strengthening bones, enhancing sleep, and reducing physical discomfort and depression risk. Furthermore, it improves strength, flexibility, mobility, and balance, which aids in injury prevention.
Yoga strengthens bones and muscles, which helps to avoid the start of physiological alterations such as osteopenia and sarcopenia. This is accomplished through yoga practice by using and activating muscles and bones.
Reduces aches and pains: Regardless of your physical limitations, yoga is effective for reducing aches and pains associated with ageing. People suffering from physiological changes, such as sarcopenia and osteopenia, can benefit greatly from yoga by learning to breathe and relax properly while dealing with chronic pain.
Yoga lowers cortisol levels, the key stress hormone in the brain, according to several studies. This dramatically reduces stress. Yoga, alone or in combination with other activities such as meditation, is a wonderful approach to reducing stress. Furthermore, yoga can benefit those suffering from anxiety disorders by lowering anxiety levels in people.
Improves sleep: Sleep is frequently a problem for older persons for a variety of reasons. Yoga for elders promotes relaxation, which promotes longer and deeper sleep.
Reduces the risk of depression: Yoga is a mood booster that is ideal for lowering the risk of depression. This is because it decreases cortisol levels, the stress hormone. This raises our serotonin levels, which improves our happiness.
Improves flexibility, mobility, and balance: Slow and controlled poses in yoga help to develop balance and agility. It gives people the tools they need to avoid falls, which are the primary cause of injury in older persons.
Yoga practitioners over the age of 65 are at a higher risk of injury than other age groups. If you are new to yoga, you will most certainly feel some pain and tightness as a result of activating new muscles. Although there is a danger of damage in yoga for elders, it is lower than in higher-impact physical activity.
SENIOR YOGA IN A CHAIR
Nahana-yoga-restorative-child-pose-on-chairSome easy body awareness activities that you may practice while sitting on a chair are a great way to begin started with yoga. These chair yoga routines for seniors might help keep your spine mobile. They can also aid in ribcage mobility. They may even aid in the improvement of body awareness, which is a positive thing because it indicates that your muscles are still working. Some of these exercises may also be beneficial for back discomfort.
PELVIC TILT FORWARD
The first thing you can do while sitting on a chair is tilt your pelvis forward. This can assist in increasing hip bone awareness while simultaneously maintaining lumbar flexibility.
Sitting upright, tilt your pelvis forward by moving your pubic bone downward. Maintain an upright ribcage and see how the bend in your lumbar spine increases. Then return to your starting point. Move slowly as well as smoothly. Rep five times more.
TILT BACKWARD PELVIC
The following exercise is the polar opposite of the preceding one. Lift your pubic bone, causing your pelvis to tilt back. Take note of how your lumbar spine flattens. Return to the beginning.
Repeat five times, moving gently and smoothly each time.
If you have difficulties feeling your lower back during this or the prior exercise, place one or both hands there to feel the changes in your lumbar spine as you execute these movements.
PELVIC SIDEWAYS TILT
Shifting your ribs to one side and lifting one sitting bone is another workout for the pelvic and lumbar spine. When you sit in a hard chair or on the floor, you may feel the sitting bones. Lift your left sitting bone while shifting your ribcage to the right. Return to the middle. This exercise should be done five times on each side. You can do one side five times before switching or alternating sides.
LIFT FOR SEATED CHEST
This next seated chair exercise aids in the maintenance or improvement of ribcage flexibility. This is vital for both the shoulders and the arms, but it also has an impact on lower back pain.
Sit up straight and concentrate on your sternum. Lift it slowly upwards. Slowly raise your sternum and see if you can gradually raise it higher and higher. Return to the beginning after a brief pause at the top. Notice any sensations at the rear of your ribcage as you perform this exercise. When you lift your chest, notice if you can feel your back ribs tugging down.
CHEST DROP FOR SEATED
If your chest naturally drops, you may not need to do this exercise. Also, if you get low back pain while doing it, skip it. Otherwise, utilize this exercise to supplement the preceding one.
Pull your sternum slowly and evenly downwards while sitting upright. Rather than simply letting it fall, deliberately draw it down to engage your core muscles. Repeat five times more.
SIDE BEND WITH SEATING
Bend your upper body to one side while sitting upright. Bend at the waist. After that, try to bend your ribs.
While keeping the pose, aim to shorten the bend’s short side by activating that side of your waist.
Alternatively, concentrate on the long side and try to lengthen or open the long side of your waist and ribs.
Hold for at least five breaths. Then do the opposite side.
TWIST IN THE SEATING
Try not to use your arms during this seated twist to strengthen and stretch the muscles that function on your spine.
Turn your ribs to the right while sitting upright. As you do this, you may notice your abdominal (or “waist”) muscles functioning. Check to see whether you can feel your ribs while twisting. Draw your ears back and up, away from your shoulders, so that your neck seems long, especially the rear of your neck.
Hold for five calm breaths or more. Relax. When you’re finished, repeat on the other side.
FOOT PRESS SEATED
This chair yoga pose can help you strengthen your legs. Again, the goal is to avoid using your arms.
To begin, sit erect with your feet, even on the floor.
Concentrate on one leg and press your heel into the floor. While doing this, keep your body still. You should be able to feel the strength in your leg. Repeat five times more. Then do the opposite side.
As you grow used to this exercise, try it while leaning forward to increasing degrees.
Another option is to press through your forefoot. Prevent your heel from elevating at this time.
KNEE LIFT FOR SEATED
You can perform this chair yoga exercise to strengthen your hip flexors.
Sit upright, but with your pubic bone raised and your pelvis inclined back.
Focus on one leg and generate an upward pull on it until you feel the front of your thigh activating. Relax and do this five times on each side.
ARMS AND LEGS YOGA IN A CHAIR
Lifting weights can be a great approach for seniors to keep their bones and muscles in good shape. If you can’t go to the gym, this next exercise is a good approach to strengthen some of the arm and leg muscles.
Place the backs of your palms against your inner thighs, just behind your knees, while sitting erect. Outwardly press your hands against your legs. Simultaneously, squeeze your legs inwards against your arms. Try gently increasing the intensity and then gradually decreasing it and relaxing. Rep five times more.
Next, place your hands just behind your knees on the outside of your thighs. Press your hands in while pushing your knees out.
Rep five times more.
Place your hands on top of your thighs, right behind the knees, for this next exercise. Concentrate on one side at a time for this one. Put your hand against your leg. Try to elevate your foot by pressing your leg upwards. Each time, alternate sides or repeat on the same side before swapping. Repeat for each side five times.
Hook your hands at the bottom of your thighs, right behind your knees, for the final exercise in this set. Pull yourself up with your hands while resting your legs. You can do this on one side at a time or both sides simultaneously. Rep five times more.
SENIOR MOUNTAIN POSE YOGA
Mountain posture is a yoga standing pose. Standing with your feet around hip width apart is a modified form of this position. You can make it even more difficult by bending your knees slightly. Chest raise and chest drop are two exercises you can do in mountain stance. You can also practice forward and backward pelvic tilts.
WEIGHT CHANGES FORWARD AND BACKWARD
Weight shifting is a simple standing exercise for seniors that is gentle yet might assist in preserving body awareness. Begin with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
Shift your weight forward in relation to your feet so that your forefeet and toes press down evenly. Shift backwards so that your heels and forefeet press down evenly.
Pay particular attention to your feet once you’ve mastered the basic exercise. Stop shifting forwards as soon as you feel your forefeet and toes pressing down evenly. Stop shifting back as soon as you feel your forefeet and heels pressing down evenly.
Repeat five times or more, going gently and smoothly.
LATERAL WEIGHT CHANGE
Shifting sideways to one foot is another standing weight shift exercise. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart but slightly turned out and your knees slightly bent.
Shift your torso to one side while remaining upright. Transfer as much weight to one foot as possible without toppling your body. Return to the centre after a little pause.
On each side, knot five ties.
If you can support your entire weight on one foot, add a tiny foot lift. Change your weight to one foot. Brace your foot and ankle, then elevate your other foot slightly without moving your upper body. Put your foot down. Return to the centre position.
Repeat on each side three to five times.
The use of friction is a simple approach to strengthen the inner and outer thighs. For this exercise, make sure your feet do not slip.
This workout is good for strengthening your knees and hips.
Extend your feet against the floor. Your leg muscles should contract. Smoothly and softly activate and relax. Then press your feet toward the floor. Take note of the leg activation once more. Repeat each action five times.
SENIORS YOGA POSES
If you’re wondering what it takes to begin a yoga practice, let us introduce you to some simple exercises and yoga positions that will help you (1) improve your breathing, (2) balance, and (3) reduce stress via relaxation:
Victorious breath (ujjayi pranayama) performed by a lady during pranayama yoga: This is a breathing technique intended to quiet the mind and warm the body. To begin practising Ujjayi, fill your lungs with air while breathing through your nose and keeping a tiny constriction in your throat. Ujjayi pranayama is frequently used in vinyasa and ashtanga yoga. When done correctly, this breathing produces a whispering sound, earning it the label “ocean-sounding breath.” You will take many deep breaths.
Benefits: This will teach you how to manage your breathing, which is one of the most important aspects of yoga. Breathing control exercises will assist you in existing in the present moment by connecting your mind, body, and soul. Ujjayi is useful for soothing the mind, relieving tension, and releasing emotions.
Risks and contraindications: When performing Ujjayi pranayama, avoid closing your throat. If this is your first time performing this breathing exercise, you should do so with the assistance of a certified instructor. If you feel dizzy, stop the process. Consult a doctor first if you have any medical concerns.
The tree position (vrikshasana) is a useful balance stance for elders. You take a strong step forward and place one foot on the opposite inner thigh, either above or below the knee. Turn your leg out to the side and place your hands in the prayer position. Hold this pose for 5–8 breaths.
Benefits: Because older folks are more likely to suffer from hip discomfort and other issues, this position is ideal for them. This position improves hip mobility. It helps with balance and concentration by activating the leg and abdominal muscles.
Contraindications and risks: The tree position necessitates strong abdominal muscles and adequate balance. Many seniors’ muscles are weakening, placing them at risk of falling and harming themselves.
If you are a beginner, you can alter this pose to a baby tree or use a chair for support. You can perform the tree posture against a wall utilizing a chair to support your elevated leg while resting the rest of your body against the wall. Try the seated tree pose: while sitting, cross one foot over the knee and raise your arms from prayer to over your head.
Legs-up-the-wall (viparita karani): This soothing and restorative yoga stance is sustained for extended periods of time. Legs-up-the-wall is performed by sitting as close to the wall as possible (on the floor or on the bed), lying down on your back, and lifting your legs against the wall. Once in position, relax your legs and upper body while concentrating on your breathing. This pose is typically held for 5 to 10 minutes but can be kept for up to 20 minutes for deeper relaxation.
The legs-up-the-wall stance promotes passive healing and relaxation by slowing breathing, lowering blood pressure, and inducing tranquillity. Furthermore, this pose can help with headaches, energy, and lower back problems.
Risks and contraindications: People with glaucoma, hypertension, or a hernia should avoid this pose. If you have lower back or hip pain, be careful not to strain your muscles by lifting your legs to the wall. Consider placing a cushion in the place that is causing you pain. It is not advisable to hold this stance for an extended period of time if you have high or low blood pressure. To avoid dizziness, take your time adjusting back to standing.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT KIND OF YOGA IS SUITABLE FOR OLDER ADULTS?
Hatha Yoga: Hatha yoga is a mild type of yoga that often consists of a series of standing and sitting positions that emphasize stretching and breathing. The yoga routine is thought to be the finest for beginners.
Restorative yoga is a slow, contemplative form of yoga in which supports are used to support the body while holding poses for extended periods of time. This mild routine is ideal for seniors who want to experience emotions of relaxation and contentment.
Yin Yoga: Yin yoga is similar to restorative yoga in that it emphasizes gentle movements. The primary distinction is that it focuses on deep connective tissue stretching, which helps to reduce stiffness while enhancing flexibility.
Vinyasa Yoga: Vinyasa is an umbrella term for yoga forms that combine breathing with a series of moves that flow together to provide a rapid and fluid program. Vinyasa yoga classes range in intensity and are ideal for relatively fit seniors looking for a challenge.
Ashtanga Yoga: Ashtanga yoga is a demanding and fast-paced form of yoga that combines a series of positions that are presented in the same manner each time. It increases heart rate and circulation while utilizing flexibility, making it ideal for weight loss. Ashtanga yoga is not suitable for beginners. Many older folks, on the other hand, find it extremely beneficial.
Bikram Yoga: This form of yoga class warms rooms to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in order to raise humidity levels to 40%. These 90-minute lessons incorporate two breathing techniques and a series of 26 poses with the goal of emptying out body toxins and strengthening muscles. Bikram yoga has dangers, including overheating, and it is not recommended for people with high or low blood pressure or any cardiac problem.
Kundalini Yoga: Kundalini yoga is a style of yoga that incorporates posture, breathing exercises, meditation, and chanting. This is a fantastic class for older folks who are interested in more than simply the physical aspects of yoga, as it incorporates spiritual elements.
Chair Yoga: This is a non-traditional choice for seniors who are not comfortable with up and down movements but want to reap the advantages of yoga for seniors. Chair yoga for seniors adapts traditional positions, such as standing poses, for use in a chair.
HOW DO I BEGIN YOGA AT THE AGE OF 60?
Before you begin, assess your physical condition. Some positions are not advised for people who have certain medical issues. Before participating in even the most basic yoga lesson, consult your doctor. Furthermore, this will assist you in determining the best class for you and ensuring that it corresponds with your goals.
It would help if you got some yoga equipment. Yoga practice necessitates the use of suitable attire. You will also require a yoga mat that is long enough to accommodate your entire body when lying down. This will provide support for all yoga poses. Props that provide extra cushion and support are available for persons who suffer from joint pain, such as knees or wrists. Straps and blocks can also make difficult poses more approachable.
Make sure to find a skilled yoga instructor who recognizes any potential restrictions and particular obstacles that people over 60 experience. Once you’ve chosen a teacher, make sure to inform them of any medical concerns you may have so that you can proceed securely and quickly. They can assist you in locating an exercise program that matches your goals and interests.
Begin slowly by taking a gentle yoga session. Set goals for yourself that you can strive toward over time (for example, touching your toes). This will allow you to concentrate on good technique and steadily improve while minimizing the danger of damage. Yoga is not about comparing yourself to others but about moving and improving at your own speed. Even if you feel challenged, yoga should never hurt or bring you discomfort. Remember that practically any stance may be modified to meet your needs and keep you comfortable.
IS YOGA SUITABLE FOR SENIORS?
Yoga is one of the most beneficial types of exercise for older people. Yoga practice comes in a variety of forms and techniques, making it acceptable for almost anyone. Yoga practitioners enjoy numerous mental and physical health advantages, including bone strengthening, stress reduction, improved sleep, and reduced pain and depression risk. It also improves strength, flexibility, mobility, and balance.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD SENIORS PRACTICE YOGA?
A study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics discovered that older women who practised yoga three times a week for twelve weeks had a significant improvement in their respiratory function. Furthermore, simply 90 minutes of yoga practice can considerably reduce stress. The regularity with which you should practice yoga is entirely dependent on the benefits you hope to gain from the activity and your present health situation. Yoga can be practised as often as desired. However, as an older adult, it is critical that you listen to your body and recognize when it requires rest. Depending on your physical abilities and fitness level, daily practice may be too much for your body. It is advisable to consult with your healthcare professional and a yoga instructor to determine what will be most beneficial to you and help you achieve your goals.