Regular yoga classes can offer many health benefits for seniors. Yoga is such a practical activity for older adults, because it is low impact and can be done at basically any level of skill or ability.
More and more seniors are starting to get into yoga, and they are quickly becoming one of the most rapidly growing groups engaged in the exercise.
Yoga Benefits for Seniors
The beauty of yoga is that you can start doing it at essentially any age. Yoga is especially good for seniors because it can:
- Strengthen joints
- Increase mobility
- Improve flexibility
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve circulation
- Reduce anxiety
- Improve respiratory function
Yoga for Seniors – How to Get Started
Preparing for your first yoga class may feel a bit intimidating, but once you get there you will quickly realize that the yoga community, for the most part, is very accommodating and helpful.
What is needed for the first class?
For those that have never done yoga before, there really isn’t much you need to worry about in terms of preparation.
You will be doing a lot of moving around, stretching, and bending, so be sure to wear something comfortable but fitted. Bulky or loose clothing will just get in your way.
Exercise pants or leggings are recommended, with a t-shirt, tank top, or thin, fitted long-sleeve shirt.
Don’t worry about shoes, most yoga is done in bare feet.
The only other things you will need are a water bottle for hydration and maybe a towel.
A small pillow may be useful for people with knee or hip issues.
You can bring your own yoga mat, but most places provide these.
Seniors Yoga – Preparation Tips
To make the most of your introduction to the world of yoga, there are a few things you can do optimize your first session and avoid injury.
Some things you can do to prepare are:
- Have a snack
- Arrive early
Always be sure to stay well hydrated before engaging in any type of physical activity. Avoiding caffeine for a few hours prior to the start of your class is also a good idea. Caffeine promotes dehydration and an increased heart rate.
Have a Snack
Having a healthy snack an hour or two before class is recommended for energy. Make it a light snack though, you don’t want to feel too heavy.
Something like fruit, a salad, or a protein/granola bar is suggested.
Eating a heavy meal beforehand can make you feel sick during the exercise.
Even though yoga is all about stretching, it is helpful to warm up a bit first. Just to get your muscles moving and blood flowing.
It is recommended to arrive early before every yoga class, to get set up and ready for the start time. Many yoga instructors close the doors as soon as class begins.
For your first class, you may want to get there about 15-20 minutes ahead of time in case you need to fill out any paper work or receive instructions.
Types of Yoga
There are many varieties of yoga to choose from, some are more conducive to seniors and beginners than others.
A few types of yoga that are recommended for seniors just starting out, are:
- Gentle yoga
- Chair yoga
- Pool yoga
- Hot yoga
The umbrella of “gentle yoga” includes several varieties that are ideal for beginners and people with limited mobility.
Gentle yoga varieties include:
These forms of yoga all cater to the individual’s specific needs and can include props if required to support proper form and alignment.
Chair Yoga for Seniors
This form of yoga incorporates the use of a chair for people that may not enjoy exercising on a yoga mat.
It is a great way to offer balance to those that have trouble standing for long periods.
Water yoga is a very low impact form of yoga. It is perfect for those suffering joint pain and stiffness.
Check your local gym or community centre for water yoga classes.
Hot yoga is like regular yoga, except with the heat turned way up. It is good for working up a sweat and improving circulation, but may not be recommended for people with heart conditions.