People of all ages can enjoy and benefit from practicing yoga. As people age, their joints become less flexible and they usually get less physical activity. Specially designed yoga classes help counter some of the effects of aging. It is estimated that the senior population will double between 2008 and 2050, to 80 million adults. The Duke Integrative Medicine program has launched a certification program for yoga instructors to learn how to safely instruct yoga classes for seniors.
While yoga can be practiced as a solitary, meditative experience, many senior yoga classes are more social. Participants may be on mats, or sitting in chairs in a circle, interacting with each other while participating in the class. Seniors living alone thrive on the social interaction provided by their yoga classes. Many who would not venture out to regular exercise classes can be coaxed into trying yoga, for its physical and mental benefits.
Chair Yoga for Seniors
All of us, unless we remain highly active, become less flexible and limber with age. Chair yoga classes have been designed to allow seniors to remain upright, and in their comfort zone without needing to move down to the floor and back up, repeatedly. Traditional poses are modified so that they may be accomplished for the benefit of the practitioner, while remaining seated.
Yoga Poses for Seniors
Certain yoga poses work better for people with limited flexibility or mobility. Some recommended poses for seniors are: The Easy Pose, Kapalabhati pose, Cat pose, Dog pose, Air-releasing pose, Double leg raises, Half spinal twist and Locust poses are all best for seniors. As with all exercises, participants need to monitor their own bodies and stop or ask for assistance if a pose does not agree with them.
Health Benefits for Seniors
Social interaction in yoga classes is as beneficial to mental health as the poses themselves are for physical health. Seniors participating in yoga classes report that they are happier, overall, and have a higher sense of well-being. They also have more self-confidence, as they regain strength and flexibility. Other physical health benefits include increased circulation, and better ability to sleep.
Yoga can benefit people throughout all stages of their lives. The mental and physical benefits of yoga extend to every participant.