Written by James Fleming
As they age, many seniors have a tendency to take on a more sedentary lifestyle.
Sometimes, this happens because of an illness or injury. But, other times, seniors simply don’t realize how much time they’re spending sitting or lying down once they retire and have fewer responsibilities to tend to.
Whatever their reason, it’s important for seniors to stay active in order to stay healthy and maintain their quality of life.
In addition to resistance training and cardiovascular exercizes like walking or swimming, older adults can benefit from yoga classes, which will help them improve their flexibility and balance and decrease their risk of injury.
There are many yoga classes available at gyms and senior centers that are geared toward older participants. But, if they’re not able to make it to these classes, seniors can also get just as much out of practicing yoga from the comfort of their own homes.
Listed below are four of the best yoga poses for seniors. These poses are all simple and easy to master without a lot of one-on-one instruction.
- Warrior II
Warrior II is a great pose for older adults, especially those who are beginners or who struggle with chronic hip or back pain.
To do this pose, start by standing up straight at the top of your yoga mat. Take a big step back with your left foot, so your feet are about three feet apart and your hips are in line with the side of your mat. Rotate your right foot so that it’s facing forward, then turn your left foot so that it’s parallel with the edge of your mat.
When you feel stable in this position, bend your right knee so you’re in a lunge (don’t let your knee extend past your toes) and extend your arms to the sides to form a “T” shape. Turn your head so you’re gazing over your right fingertips.
Hold for 3-5 breaths, then switch sides.
- Tree Pose
Tree pose is a great pose for seniors who need to work on their balance and want to prevent falls.
To do tree pose correctly, start by standing up straight at the top of your yoga mat with your feet together. Slowly shift your weight to your left foot and lift your right foot off the ground. Bend your right knee and bring your foot to the inside of the left leg, letting it rest on your inner ankle, calf, or your inner thigh (don’t put it directly on the side of your knee).
Raise your arms overhead with your palms facing inward. Hold for 3-5 breaths, then switch sides.
It’s easy to modify this pose by holding onto a chair or the wall if you need extra support.
Bridge pose is a good option for seniors who want to strengthen their hips and lower back to minimize pain and improve mobility.
To do this pose, start by lying on your back with your feet on the floor, about hip-distance apart. The knees should be bent and the feet should be in line with them, while your arms are flat on the floor at your sides.
Inhale and press your hands down into the floor, then, as you exhale, press down with your feet and lift your hips off the ground. Try to make your body form a straight line from knees to head — don’t let your back arch too much. Hold for 3-5 breaths, then lower yourself back down.
- Legs Up the Wall
This is a great restorative post and is perfect for relaxing at the end of a long day. It can also help improve circulation.
Start by sitting with one side of your body against the wall. Then, lower down to the floor and swing your legs up so they’re flat against the wall and perpendicular to the floor.
If you lack the flexibility to get your legs flat on the wall, shift your body back and bend your knees slightly.
Keep your arms to your sides and hold the pose, breathing deeply for 5-10 breaths. Then, slowly swing your legs to the side to bring them away from the wall.