Yoga for Seniors : Gentle Poses For Aging Gracefully
One of the best things about yoga is that it can be enjoyed and benefited from throughout one’s lifetime. If you’re an older adult who’s never tried yoga, you can definitely use this ancient practice and use it to help you emotionally and physically.
But what about the poses? Won’t they be difficult or dangerous, especially if your balance isn’t the best? Rest assured; there are a variety of very gentle and safe asanas (or poses) that you can do as an older adult.
Let's dive into a variety of safe asanas that you can do in your own living room, as well as the many benefits of yoga for older adults.
What Are The Benefits of Yoga For Older People?
As we age, our balance, stability, flexibility, and overall joint health often deteriorate. We may find ourselves getting around with greater difficulty, and day to day tasks can take more time. Can yoga help with this?
Absolutely! The physical benefits of yoga should be of special interest to seniors, and it’s worth taking a class or learning basic poses as an older adult. Some of the core merits of yoga are improved coordination, healthier muscle strength, a healthier heart, and straighter posture. All of these boons can be a huge help in improving health and mobility, as well as retaining your independence.
The poses of yoga can be modified, allowing you to stay seated and comfortable. There’s no need to fear falling or tripping, as basic asanas can be done safely in a chair or with supports.
What about the emotional benefits? Yoga has been found to reduce anxiety, alleviate depression, and improve sleep quality. If you have the chance to attend a yoga for seniors class, the social benefits of this activity can help battle isolation or loneliness, as well. There’s really no reason to not try yoga as a senior.
But how should you go about with the asanas? We’ll show you how to do several seated asanas below, that are simple and safe enough to try in your living room.
Seated Tadasana or Mountain Pose
Tadasana or Mountain Pose is one of the simplest asanas, and it’s easy to do a seated version of this stance. This pose will help to stretch your shoulders, can improve lung function, and work gently on arm strength.
Begin by sitting up in your chair, with your feet planted on the floor. Take a deep breath in, and shift weight to your feet as you do so, extending the spine into a straighter position.
As you breathe out, move your shoulders back as you extend your arms away from your body at a 45 degree angle. Hold this pose for three breath cycles, breathing in and out deeply.
If possible, now inhale and extend your arms upwards, over your head, with hands meeting in the middle. If this is too difficult for you, it’s ok to simply raise the arms without the hands meeting. Take your arms as high as you can and hold that posture for at least two breath cycles, breathing out as you lower the arms.
This asana is easy to customize to your own mobility needs, and simple to perform. It’s a great way to start the day with a focus on improving balance, posture, and breathing.
Seated Ardha Matsyendrasana or Lord of the Fish Pose
This is another simple asana that works on spinal flexibility, upper body strength, and posture. You’ll have to use a chair without armrests for this one.
Begin by sitting sideways on your chair, with the chair's back to your immediate right. Straighten your back and keep the soles of your feet on the floor and breathe deeply. Now, twist your torso to the right, and grab the chairs back for stability, keeping your legs straight out in front of you. Breathe out as you return your upper body to face forward.
You can do this pose as many times as you like, and reverse the position for a left-side twist, as well.
Seated Bitilasana Marjaryasana or Cow-Cat Pose
The cow-cat pose is great for your back, and also helps to open up the rib cage. This can be especially helpful for those with asthma, as well as balance and posture issues. It’s also wonderfully simple to do while seated.
Begin as normally, straight in your chair, with shoulders back, and feet planted straight in front of you. Breathe in. Now roll your shoulders back as you gently tilt the head backwards and extend the spine. Breathe out as you bring your shoulders forward, flex the spine downwards, pull your stomach muscles in, and point your head towards the ground.
This is a simple way to improve coordination as well as help the upper body move more freely. If you’re not able to bring the upper body all the way down, move as much as you’re able to.
Seated Sukhasana or Meditative Pose
Meditation is a key factor in yoga, and the benefits of meditation in fighting depression, forgetfulness, and anxiety are well-studied. The Seated Sukhasana is a great way to relax at the end of the day, or even settle and prepare the mind for the day ahead. It’s one of the simpler asanas physically, yet requires some mental concentration, too.
Sit straight in your chair, making sure your posture is strong, yet your body relaxed. Breathe in and out deeply, making sure your diaphragm moves out as you inhale and in as you exhale. Close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Allow your thoughts and worries to float gently to the ground like falling leaves, allowing only your pure focus to remain. It’s ok to shift the attention to a mantra, calming scene, or a single thought or word (like “peace”) during this time.
Breathe in and out purposefully, and remain in this pose for as long as you like, gently easing the mind out of meditation when you’re ready. Many people find it helpful to set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes of meditation per day.
This asana and meditative practice can greatly ease worry and anxiety, improve mental focus, and allow this mind and body to relax after a long day. You can also try some calming music in the background during any of these asanas or nature sounds (like waves or rain).
Yoga is perfect for any age group, and the gentle poses can greatly improve muscle strength as well as mental well being. The asanas can be modified for sitting, making them safer for those whose balance is a bit uneven. You’ll likely notice an improvement in focus, muscle coordination, and even lower body stability as your mind and muscles reconnect meaningfully.
Start your day with yoga for better freedom of motion, breathing, posture, and coordination. Remember, do as much as you can. If you can’t bend all the way forward or backwards, push your body as far as it will go, then stop. The goal here is to improve mobility and mental peace, not hurt yourself.
If you can get into a yoga for seniors class, this would be a great way to get out and do yoga in a group. If not, the living room is just fine, too. Take it at a pace that brings you joy, peace, and greater health.