You’re never too old to benefit from yoga. Are you a resident of assisted living in Macomb County who wants to safely and effectively improve their mental and physical health? If so, then the meditating, breathing, and stretching activities from yoga can be the best option. Yoga routines for older adults have multiple benefits, ranging from better balance, less stress, more flexibility, and improved sleep.
It’s no surprise, given the above benefits, that yoga has been rising in popularity among the elderly. According to the 2016 Yoga in America Study, nearly 14 million Americans above 50 years old did yoga activities that year. That was a big jump from 4 million Americans in 2012.
We will go over the plentiful benefits of senior yoga as well as the most effective types of yoga for senior men and women.
Yoga Benefits for Seniors
Yoga enhances the mind-body connection. It combines stretches, postures that strengthen form, relaxation techniques, and deep breaths. Even though it has roots in Eastern philosophy, in the West, the focus is usually on fitness. There is more of a spiritual angle to it rather than religious. Therefore, people of every faith and belief can partake in doing yoga.
Since yoga poses, which are also known as asanas, can all be modified to suit the individual, it’s safe for seniors of all levels of fitness. It’s also a safer way for seniors to stay healthy. Weight lifting and even jogging have the potential to put stress on the joints. The great thing about yoga is that it’s never too late to start. It can be done at any age. Still, you should check with your doctor first before getting started!
Preparing for Yoga
For seniors, the best flexibility and strength training comes from yoga. So given that, it’s important to be prepared. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Review Your Body’s Condition
As we said, while a person of any age can begin in yoga, certain yoga movements aren’t recommended for people with specific medical problems. For example, folks with glaucoma shouldn’t do inverted or head-down positions since these poses can put too much pressure on the eyes. As you can see, this is why it’s important to discuss the subject with your primary care provider (as well as your yoga instructor) before trying a yoga exercise, even if it seems like a simple one.
Consider Chair Yoga
Chair yoga is a non-traditional form of yoga that’s become quite common in assisted living in Macomb County. Chair yoga is an alternative to yoga, especially for those people who don’t like going through the up and down motions of normal yoga. With chair yoga, seniors that have difficulty with mobility or balancing can reap the benefits of yoga without needing to get down on the floor. Many yoga poses can be modified to work in the chair – spinal twists, hip stretches, forward bends, chest openers, etc.
Get Geared Up
For yoga, your clothing should be comfortable and stretchable. Fitted clothing is best. Tops should definitely be fitted because you will need to be able to bend in various positions, and your shirt should not be falling over your eyes. For pants, go with jogging pants paired with a tank top or fitted T-shirt. You likely won’t need specific footwear since yoga is usually done barefoot. But, non-slip socks can still be helpful if you’re worried about keeping your balance.
You’ll also want to get a yoga mat. Certain studios give these out at no extra cost, though others will want you to use your own (and it’s better hygienically to use your own anyway). You’ll want to get one that’s long enough for your entire body and is sticky enough to prevent you from slipping during a pose.
Look for a Good Instructor
You’ll want to have a teacher who understands the specific needs and challenges the above 55 crowd has to deal with. Check out the Yoga Alliance, which is a roster of yoga instructors across the US who have met specific criteria. The organization Yoga for Seniors also provides a directory of teachers who went through specific training to convert all kinds of yoga programs into 55 and above-friendly programs.
Ask your prospective instructors how long they’ve been teaching in class environments. Also, ask if they have experience working with seniors or folks with health challenges. And if possible, attend a class as an observer to see how the teacher approaches things. After you’ve chosen one, definitely let him or her know about your physical limitations. High blood pressure, arthritis, back pain, and balancing issues are relevant ones to discuss.
With yoga, it’s important to remember that you can ease into it. For example, let’s say that you have a goal of being able to bend down and touch your toes. In that case, you will start out by trying to put your hands on your thighs. You’ll take in a few deep breaths and stretch your arms down to your knees. Then you’ll pause and do more deep breaths before attempting to go further down to your thighs, and so on. As you can see, it’s all about avoiding over-stretching.
Yoga Classes for Older Adults
It’s ideal to start your journey into yoga with an in-person class. That way, you will get customized personal instructions from an experienced instructor. Doing the moves correctly is important so that you can avoid injuries and get the most possible benefits from the activity. In addition, there is a fun social angle of doing yoga with others who share the same passion.
However, you may be wondering, where can I find good yoga classes for seniors in my area? Assisted living in Macomb County may offer classes. There are also yoga studios, health clubs, and community centers that you can look into. Program names to watch out for include “beginner,” “gentle yoga,” or “yoga for seniors.”
There is also a website, “Yoga class Near You,” that will let you input your location and filter for senior-friendly yoga classes.