Yoga has been all the rage for the past few years among young people, both women and men. But it's been slowly catching on with older adults more recently for its health and wellness benefits. While very advanced yoga and Bikram yoga – whereby participants practice in a very hot room – are not suitable for older adults and beginners, there are many poses that you can practice in your own home!
But first, consider taking a class in a yoga studio, where you can get out and meet other people and learn the basics. If you have hearing loss, make sure to place your mat in the front row so you can more easily hear the instructor and speech read if necessary.
Here are some benefits of yoga for older adults:
- Strengthen your bones with yoga. The consistent weight-bearing activity of yoga and similar activities is important for those with low bone density and at risk of osteoporosis. Yoga can slow bone thinning and is an especially good activity for postmenopausal women, who are most at risk for osteoporosis.
- It can protect your joints. Many people have stiff joints and arthritis starting in their 50s. Yoga might help lubricate joints by helping them move fluidly over each other, which strengthens them and increases range of motion without adding undue stress and wear and tear.
- Yoga poses can improve your balance, which is important in reducing falls. Yoga also strengthens your muscles, which can improve balance and give your joints added support.
- Yoga might reduce anxiety. For many people, certain poses – often done to quiet music – have a calming effect that can lower stress, heart rate and blood pressure.
- Along with reducing anxiety and calming the mind, yoga can boost the mood. Some research shows it increases the chemical known as GABA in the brain, which calms nerves. Additionally, most types of exercise releases endorphins – the "happy chemical."
- Some research shows that yoga can sharpen your mind due to the focus required for fluid movements and proper breathing.
Here are some of the best yoga positions for older adults, which you can look up online or watch in YouTube videos to learn them:
- Cobbler's pose
- Warrior One
- Chair pose
- Half chair at the wall pose
- Tree pose
- Supported warrior pose
- Butterfly pose
- Seated forward bend in chair pose