Seniors, after living 70 glorious years, often feel their physical strength slipping away. Not only do they face threats of diseases like arthritis, heart conditions, and mental health issues, they also shift towards a more sedentary lifestyle.
The demoralizing effect of limited mobility and lack of resources make seniors wish for something that aids in reclaiming their health goals. Your wish is our command! So, here we are with a piece on “Yoga for seniors over 70”.
Yoga is a comprehensive, diverse form of low-impact exercise that has something for everyone. Whether you’re seven or seventy, it is easy to engage in this incredible form of exercise.
A very important benefit of yoga is the fact is that it helps a person age gracefully. Based on your age, strength, stamina, and activity level, you can choose from a variety of different yoga poses. Yoga has gained popularity among Baby Boomers who are beyond excited to join the ranks of flexible, strong people who enjoy the positive effect of low-impact yoga moves.
Yoga poses are the same for people of all ages. The difference is the amount of time, the effort you exert, and your flexibility. Seniors over 70 have lessor endurance levels than their children or grandchildren. Hence, they should try simpler postures for a shorter time, without pushing for complex poses.
Why Do We Recommend Yoga For Seniors Over 70?
We recommend yoga for seniors over 70 because of its efficiency in keeping the bones and joints sturdy and flexible. The regular practice of yoga causes you to feel an energy surge throughout your bones and muscles.
Also, there are special poses that aid in preventing cardiovascular diseases, regulating blood pressure, ensuring healthy bowel movements, and boosting the digestive system. An additional advantage for seniors is yoga strengthens your immune system, countering its natural weakening process due to aging.
Yoga blends asanas, pranayama, and meditation, so, for seniors, it is not just about physical well-being it is about the psychological benefits as well. Too many seniors experience loneliness and depression. Yoga helps the elderly come together, have social interactions, and a positive outlook because Yoga practices filling your minds with tranquility and happiness.
5 Great Yoga Options for Seniors Over 70
Yoga is all about picking the pose which you enjoy doing. You do not need to invest in any equipment or machinery. All you need is a yoga mat and a trainer to help you with the poses which you may try while standing, sitting, or lying. Here is a short-list of options for people who wish to do yoga on a chair or in a swimming pool.
1. Yoga While Standing
These poses are for seniors who are healthy enough to stand and have no major support or stability issues. (Remember, all poses are to be done within your own comfort level.)
· Mountain pose
This seemingly easy pose benefits you by improving balance and posture. Stand straight at your full height. Keep your toes and heels together.
Stretch your arms upwards and join your palms together. Draw your stomach in and relax your shoulders and back. Focus on your leg muscles while breathing five to eight times.
· Triangle Pose
This pose helps to stretch and strengthen hips while improving circulation. Stand with feet approximately 3 feet apart. Turn your right foot clockwise on the floor until your toes point to the right. Turn your heel and your left foot clockwise for a slight stretch in your ankle.
Raise your arms to shoulder height parallel to the floor. Keeping your arms still, slightly shift your hips to the left as you, extend your shoulders and upper body to the right as far as is comfortable.
Once you have shifted right as far as you can bring your right hand down to your right leg. (For some your hand will be at your ankle, others your shin, and others your thigh.) Extend your left arm upwards towards the ceiling which opens up your chest.
The key to this movement is keeping the right wall of your body in as much of a straight line as possible, do not crunch the wall of your side at the waist. Keeping your body wall straight causes a triangle shape to be formed by your right leg, right arm, and the ride side of your body.
You can keep your face looking forward or you can turn your head to look up at your upward extended left arm. Maintain this pose for 5 breaths. An example can be seen in this you-tube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9wlRuH_9k8
2. Yoga While Sitting
Seniors who would prefer to sit on the yoga mat should try these poses:
· Butterfly Pose
Also known as the cobbler’s pose, this pose helps improve digestion and bowel movements. It focuses on the thigh muscles and knee joints to relieve pain and stiffness.
Sit tall on the floor and bring the soles of both feet together in front of you. Open your thighs and knees completely. Hold your feet together and massage gently by moving both legs up and down like a butterfly’s wings.
· Child Pose
This is the easiest and most relaxing pose which can be performed when sitting on the floor. It calms the nervous system and relieves backaches.
Sit tall, spread the knees, and keep your toes together. Rest the hips on the heels of your feet. Exhale and bow forward to rest your chest on your thighs and or knees. Touch the floor with your forehead.
Let go of all the tension in your back, shoulders, and neck. Keep your eyes closed and place your palms on the floor, facing downwards. Hold for one minute.
3. Yoga While Lying Down
Lying down doesn’t necessarily mean being lazy. You can try these yoga poses while lying down to improve circulation and strengthen shoulder and back muscles.
· Cobra Pose
Don’t get scared of the name. This is part of the finale of every yoga session. It is a very relaxing posture.
Lie down on your belly and keep your legs slightly apart. Extend your toes letting your ankles relax closer to the floor. Relax and extend your lower body.
Place your hands close to your shoulders, palms down on the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, breathe in, and begin lifting your upper body, shoulders first, off the floor. Use your hands for balance.
Try to avoid pushing your body up with your hands. Instead use the muscles in your back to lift yourself, keeping your shoulders and head free of stress. Understand the lift will get stronger and your arms will get straighter with practice.
Release your entire body and breathe. Keep the pose for 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Yoga in Chair
Seniors suffering from limited functional mobility can perform yoga poses while sitting on a chair. This technique is also called desktop yoga and is often performed by people who work at desks all day. Sit on a chair and perform these poses to relieve pain, stress, and improve blood circulation.
· Neck Roll
Close your eyes and drop your chin to your chest. Slowly rotate your neck by touching your right ear on your right shoulder and left ear on the left shoulder. Complete the whole revolution while keeping your shoulders loose. Perform this neck roll clockwise and then counter-clockwise.
· Cat/Cow Stretch
Sit comfortably on the front of the chair with feet touching the floor. Place both palms on your knees. Exhale while lowering your chin to your chest and rolling your shoulders forward to round your back, plus rotating your hips upward. This stretches your spin. (Your back can be resting on the chair back.)
Inhale lifting your chin, face, and shoulders up and back forming a slight arch in your back. You will be looking at the ceiling. This stretches the front of your upper torso and is very good for posture. Repeat for 5 breaths.
· Seated Forward Bend
Make sure you have some space in front of you for this pose. Sit on a chair with your feet on the floor. Place your hands on your thighs and push upward-lifting your shoulders and opening your spin up.
Retaining your extended body position, move your palms to your knees, and bend forward from your hips as far as possible. This lengthens and relaxes your spine.
5. Yoga under Water
Also known as aqua yoga, water yoga is performed underwater. It is used as a therapy after surgeries and accidents. When immersed in water, the body feels lighter and you can move more easily.
Poses like planks (a straight body push up pose) and cobra are performed in the same manner as on the ground. Use the wall of the swimming pool as the floor and follow the same instructions for the poses.
Yoga Precautions for Seniors
While yoga is a highly rewarding form of physical activity, as a senior you must be careful and take a few precautions:
- Speak to your doctor before engaging in yoga, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while or have any chronic conditions.
- Try yoga under a trained professional only and discuss your health conditions with him/her beforehand.
- Repeat the poses while holding for a shorter time and rest in between.
- Give time to your body to adjust to the routine.
- Try brisk walking and slow joint movements as a warm-up before the poses.
The benefits of yoga, for the senior is keeping your body as flexible and agile as possible while limiting the amount of stress and strain on your muscles and ligaments. As I have aged all my Doctors have advised me to stay healthy by exercising.
If you are getting the same advise, yoga may be your best alternative. Why not start today?!!