As we age, we gain wisdom, experience, and maturity in the midst of the challenges we face. Aging affects everyone differently, and between managing weight, joint-health, chronic pain, there are mental and emotional battles. Seniors afflicted with Alzheimer’s and dementia can find a loss of self-awareness, confidence, and can even feel depressed.
A balanced diet and exercise can help keep the mind sharp and the body in better condition, but yoga also offers many different benefits that contribute to senior health.
How Yoga Can Help Seniors
Yoga poses strengthen the muscles to build up balance and stability. This will reduce the likelihood of falls, or increase the chance of an easier recovery if one were to occur. Yoga is a gentle and low impact exercise that also builds flexibility to promote better joint health.
Oxygen flow is improved and high blood pressure can also be reduced. Yoga has been found to reduce one of the leading causes of high blood pressure called oxidative stress.
A great reliever of stress, anxiety, and nerves, yoga is calming and relaxes the body and mind. Focusing on the movements encourages mindfulness and listening to the body.
Safe Beginner Poses for Seniors
1. Mountain Pose
This pose is a basic foundation for all other standing poses. It’s low impact and can help improve posture and alleviate back pain.
For this, you’ll need to do the following steps:
- Stand shoulder-width apart, with your arms by your sides
- Distribute the weight of your body evenly on both feet
- Engage the muscles in your legs and squeeze the thighs
- Breath deep and lengthen the spine with each inhale. Reach the top of your head towards the ceiling
- As you exhale, relax the shoulders and reach the fingertips downward
- Do this for five to ten breaths
2. Tree Pose
This is a perfect move for improving balance and overall strength. Stability is another main focus with this one. Follow the steps below:
- Stand with both feet together and the palms together
- Slowly lift your right leg, touching your heel to the opposing ankle
- To reduce wobbliness, focus the eyes on one point of the opposing wall or even hold onto furniture for support
- If you feel stable enough, stretch the arms up to the sky, fingertips pointed
- If possible, hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds
- Repeat the move with the opposite leg
3. Chair Yoga
This style of yoga is better fit for those seniors who aren’t quite steady enough to do a lot of standing. For this, you will need a chair that allows their feet to touch the ground, and preferably not have arm rests. A belt or strap may also be useful to assist in stretching moves.
There are a wide variety of poses that can be done in this way, such as the Seated Twist. To engage in this move, these are the following steps:
- Take a deep breath. On the inhale, extend your spine and raise the arms out to the sides and then up.
- On the exhale, slowly twist the upper body to the right and lower your arms — your right hand will sit on the top of the chair back and assist you as you gently twist, while your left hand needs to rest at your side.
- Slowly look over your right shoulder. Your grip on the chair is supposed to help you hold the twist but not deepen it.
- You will release this twist after five breaths, returning to face the front once done. Then you will want to repeat this same process on your left side.
This pose is great for working flexibility skills and alleviating lower back pain. Digestion and circulation also benefit from this movement, and it is often referred to as a “detox pose.”
Senior Yoga at Home
Before taking part in any form of exercise, you’ll want to consult with a physician. They’ll know the best ways to navigate physical limitations and ensure no additional risk is being created from this instead.
Yoga is very adaptive and will benefit your loved one in a number of ways. At Kensington Park, we love having yoga classes with our residents. Our life enrichment programs keep senior residents active, engaged, and social. The move to assisted living or memory care allows for these to be in a regular schedule. Contact us today if you are wondering how Kensington Park is different from senior communities. We promise to love and care for your family as we do our own.