While you may think of yoga as young and trending, it also provides a wide range of benefits. These benefits are especially true as you age. Yoga for retirees is great. Yoga can increase your ability to age in place. If you are in the home you’ve spent decades in or in a resort-style retirement community, you’re covered and reducing your risk for diseases and ailments that impact seniors at a higher rate.
Here’s everything you need to know to dip your toes in, perfect your practice, or take your skills to the next level.
Yoga provides a myriad of benefits for practitioners of all ages, but seniors have perhaps the most to gain. Benefits of yoga during your golden years include:
- Stress management. Yoga allows you to release built up tension, especially in your neck, back, and shoulders. Yoga can relieve the stress that contributes to anxiety, high heart rate, and high blood pressure. In other words, consistent yoga practice might help you knock a few pills out of your daily medication regimen.
- A better night’s sleep. Many seniors who practice yoga routinely report improved sleep, which could be the result of a few different factors. Physical activity during the day can expel energy, leaving your brain and body tired at the end of the day. Increased blood flow and movement can help prevent the aches, pains, and restlessness that make it hard to fall asleep. Finally, the relaxing nature of yoga can help ease stress so you sleep better when you crawl into your bed for the night.
- Stronger bones. Yoga is a form of low-impact strength training known to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. However, it’s important to note that those with pre-existing osteoporosis should visit with their provider before taking on a new exercise routine to ensure their bones are strong enough to prevent injury.
- Better mobility. Mobility becomes more and more important with age, and even a small decline in mobility can have a significant impact on your quality of life and ability to age in place. Consistent yoga practice (a few times a week) can improve your mobility, flexibility, strength, and balance, making it easier to maintain your independence and experience the retirement you envisioned.
- Reduced risk of depression. Yoga is a great self-soothing technique and is known to improve energy, better empower you to cope with stress, and reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Perhaps best of all, you can practice yoga anywhere – home or away – with little or no equipment and you don’t need any experience at all to get started.
Yoga comes in all shapes and sizes, ranging from restorative yoga (affectionately called blanket and pillow yoga) to trapeze yoga, which requires a little more skill and resembles circus tricks.
The most popular types of yoga for seniors include:
- Chair yoga, which is especially beneficial for those who can’t get on the floor (or off the floor!) but still want to experience the benefits of yoga
- Restorative yoga, which focuses primarily on relaxation and relies on props to keep you as comfortable as possible
- Yin yoga, which requires no prior experience or fitness level and promotes longer holds in each position to promote stretching
- Vinyasa yoga, which providers a more intense workout and is recommended for more experienced and fit yogis
If you’ve never done yoga before, you may choose to start with restorative or yin yoga. If you’re fit and consider yourself a moderate to advanced yogi, vinyasa yoga might be the best fit.
Yoga is one of the most diverse and convenient ways to exercise. Unlike other exercises, Yoga can be done anywhere, alone or in a group, and with or without props and equipment.
Most resort-style retirement communities and membership gyms offer access to group yoga classes at no additional classes. But if you prefer to practice in the privacy of your own home or on your own schedule – you can. If this is you, you can find skilled yoga instruction for free online.
Yoga with Adrienne is a popular YouTube channel. Adrienne teaches slow and gentle yoga along with lots of other variations. This helps for all fitness and flexibility level. Pranamaya Yoga Media has a wide range of yoga instruction for seniors, yoga gurus, and everyone in between. The Mat Project is another prolific content creator in the yoga space, providing options that are great for seniors and beginners and much more. There are also quite a few paid apps that can help you perfect your practice: Gaia, Glo, Daily Yoga, and 5 Minute Yoga, to name a few.
Once you learn basic yoga moves from an instructor, it becomes much easier to develop your own routines and practice yoga without an instructor at all, if you prefer.
Start your yoga practice by attending a group class or watching a free video on YouTube today and rake in the rewards: mobility, flexibility, relaxation, great sleep, and more!