Yoga for Seniors: A new way to stay healthy

Sit comfortably in your chair and bring your awareness to your breathing. As you inhale, raise your right arm to where it can go comfortably, and as you exhale, slowly lower it down, relaxing the arm and shoulder… Now the other side…

Yoga can improve health and wellbeing

Yoga is increasingly being researched for its health benefits, with promising results. Most of the research has been done in the last few years as yoga becomes more mainstream. Yoga can improve health and wellbeing for all age groups, but especially for conditions often associated with aging. Studies show that yoga can be useful for relieving insomnia, lowering blood pressure, managing symptoms of COPD, decreasing kyphosis, and relieving depression and anxiety. On Yoga Blog, seniors tell firsthand about the benefits they have received through their practice.

Yoga for seniors is generally done in a chair.

The difference between a chair yoga class and a regular sitting exercise class is the emphasis on breathing and relaxation. Yoga has a wonderful way of lengthening and deepening the breath over time through various breathing exercises. Also, classes traditionally end with a relaxation, which lowers stress and improves mood. Yoga Chicago magazine offers an informative article about chair yoga for seniors.

The key is to find a class that is the right level.

Many centers that serve the older population now offer yoga. However, keep in mind that the classes labeled “gentle,” “easy” or “for seniors” can vary in difficulty. Some classes are conducted entirely in chairs, some include standing postures, and some require getting down to the floor to do seated and lying postures.

In order to find an appropriate class, consider the following:

1. Ask if you can take just one “drop-in” class rather than signing up for a series. Most places will allow you to do this. 2. Contact the instructor ahead of time and explain any physical limitations, and ask if the class is right for you. 3. Find an experienced instructor who understands how to modify the poses for each individual. The instructor should be certified by the Yoga Alliance, the national certification board. To locate a qualified yoga instructor visit the Yoga Alliance website at http:// yogaalliance.org/ 4. There are yoga DVDs for seniors, but it is best to learn in person from a teacher and then supplement your practice at home with a DVD. To find a DVD that is a suitable level, try your local library, where you can view it first before buying one.

Older Adult Yoga Students Report Personal Benefits

Yoga has made a big difference to the students at Resurrection Retirement Center. The students who attend twice a week on a regular basis have experienced the greatest benefits. Several students report a decrease or elimination of their back pain. Another student reports that her chronic shoulder pain is greatly diminished, and that when she has her blood pressure checked after class by the visiting nurse, she gets a “normal” reading, something she has not gotten for several years. Yet another student reports that she no longer gets winded when she walks down the long hallway at the center. Some of the students use the relaxation techniques to fall asleep at night, with good results. The seniors were hesitant to try yoga at first, but through word of mouth, the class has become one of the most well attended at the center. *This article was edited by Heidi Enriquez Thanks to GWSA on flikr for sharing this picture with us.

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