You’re never too old for yoga. If you think yoga is strictly for fit, flexible youngsters, think again. Yoga is a very versatile form of physical exercise that it will work for older people too. In fact, research shows that yoga is one of the best ways to de-stress, prevent fatigue, and strengthen the body in elderly individuals. Regular yoga is bound to make you feel lighter, fitter, and younger!
And don’t be intimidated with some of yoga’s more complex positions; your instructor should help you achieve the position without straining the body. Below are some of the best yoga exercises for the elderly:
One-Legged Wind Releasing Position
This yoga exercise helps stretch all muscle groups in the back and hip area, minimizing lower back pain in aging individuals. The one-legged wind release position is also a very easy pose that offers effective yet gentle muscle stretch.
To do this position, lie down on your back. With your knees bent and your feet on the floor, hug your thigh to your chest. You may use a belt or strap to assist you in this position if needed.
Next, straighten your left leg and keep your foot flexed, keeping your right buttocks and pelvis on the floor. Breathe deeply and feel your muscles relaxing. Maintain the position after several breaths and switch to the other side.
The Staff Position
If your hands and joints are feeling a little worn down lately, the staff position is a great yoga pose that helps alleviate joint and ligament pain as well as build flexibility and strength. This position also helps build stronger quadriceps to prevent pain and weakness in the knees.
To do this position, sit on the floor with your legs stretched out front. You could also sit with your back against the wall and a rolled up towel between the wall and the curve on your back for support. Pulling your belly and sitting up tall, place your hands on the floor near to your hips. Your fingers should point towards your toes.
Do not flex your abdominal muscles. Instead, flex your thigh muscles while pressing them down on the floor. Rotate them inwards and draw your groin muscles towards your tailbone. Gently flex your ankles with your toes pointing towards your body. Relax and take deep breaths. Hold the position for 2 to 10 breaths and release.
Warrior I Pose
Building muscle strength and flexibility helps prevent severe injuries after a fall. As such, elderly individuals should always go for yoga positions that build more strength in the lower body. The Warrior I position is a very popular yoga pose that helps enhance balance and build lower back strength.
To do this position, spread your legs so that one set of toes are touching a wall. The other leg should be stretched back with toes pointed outwards.
With hips square to the wall, keep your torso in an upright position, stretch your arms out straight, and slightly up so that the arms press against the wall. This helps keep the shoulders down.
As you bend your front knee at a right angle, breathe deeply. Inhale as you come up. Keep the position twice before switching to the other leg.
Cardio exercises help keep the heart health and the organs oxygenated efficiently. The chair pose is perfect for seniors who love a good yet gentle cardio workout. This position helps keep the blood flowing, boosting circulation and keeping the heart rate up!
To do the chair position, stand with your feet together. With palms facing inward, swing your arms out to the side and above your head as you inhale deeply.
Bend your knees so that the torso and your thighs create a right angle, like you’re sitting on a chair. Tuck your tailbone under and exhale as you maintain this position for a minute.
Inhale deeply as you stand upright and then lower your arms back down. The chair pose might be challenging for beginners but it helps build strength around the knee area. If you can’t perform this position without support, we suggest using a wall to stabilize your body. As your lower body gains strength from yoga, start weaning yourself off from the wall support.
The Savasana (sha-vah-suh-nuh) could be the most important yoga pose, especially for elders. And it’s very easy to do. The Savasana pose helps relax the muscles and is usually done after ending a physical workout.
To do this position, lie down on your back and use a pillow to support your head and neck. Keep your feet a foot away from each other and relax. Keep your arms by your side with your palms facing up. Your shoulders should be down and your shoulder blades pointed towards your spine. If this position hurts your back, get a rolled up towel and tuck it in your back.
Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly. Focus on your breathing exercise to calm the muscles.