Yoga for Seniors
Starting new physical activities as an older adult can come with challenges, but yoga is an excellent option for strengthening your body and improving mobility. September is National Yoga Awareness Month. If you’re new to yoga, it’s a great time to learn the benefits of practicing and how to get started.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is an exercise that uses slow movements and deep breathing to improve strength, balance, flexibility, and mobility. Yoga started as an ancient spiritual practice rooted in enhancing the body and mind. In the United States, yoga emphasizes physical well-belling, meditation, and breathing.
Aside from physically improving the body, yoga is also meant to improve mental and emotional health. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, yoga can relieve stress, lower back and neck pain, tension headaches, menopause symptoms, and anxiety.
Beginner Yoga Poses to Try
There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels to yoga. As you build your mind and body, you can work toward more vigorous poses. However, if you’re new to yoga, here are some poses to try.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
The mountain pose is an excellent pose for releasing stress. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, take a deep breath, close your eyes and cast your face toward the sky as you lift your arms above your head. As you exhale, slowly bring your hands back to your side and draw your gaze toward the floor. Repeat this motion five times, or until you feel your body and mind relaxing.
Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
The tree pose works to improve balance. Start by standing with your feet together and arms resting at your sides. Take a deep breath and place the sole of one foot just above your ankle. Holding that position, raise your arms up and over your head. Put your hands together and draw them in a pray position down to your chest. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then try on the other side.
If you want more of a challenge, you can move the sole of your foot further up your leg. The higher you place your foot, the more you’ll rely on your balance. If you’re having trouble keeping your balance, position yourself near a wall for support. You can also use a tall chair or the shoulder of a loved one.
Extended Puppy (Uttana Shishosana)
The extended puppy pose is a mix between the downward dog and child pose. It’s great for stretching the lower back, chest, and abdomen. Start on all fours with your knees and palms on the ground. Slowly walk your arms out in front of you and draw your chest toward the floor. Position your hips over the knees, and continue walking the hands out until they are straight in front of you. Hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds, then slowly walk yourself back to all fours.
When in this position, be sure not to lock your elbows. Also, if you’re unable to bring your chest to the floor, bring it as far as you can without losing comfort.
Tips for Practicing Safe Yoga
If you’re new to yoga, it’s essential to take things slow and make sure you’re keeping your body safe before, during, and after your practice.
- Consult a doctor before starting- Anytime you’re starting a new workout routine, you should speak with your doctor to ensure you’re healthy and safe while exercising.
- Don’t push yourself- Take yoga at your own pace. If you’re feeling any discomfort from a pose, don’t push yourself. Listen to your body and only do what makes you comfortable.
- Use yoga props- Many yogis of all ages use yoga props such as blocks and bands to help them learn poses. Don’t view props as a handicap, but a learning tool.
- Work with a professional- If you’re new to yoga, it’s worth taking a few beginner classes with a certified yoga instructor to ensure you are doing the poses correctly, so you’re not only reaping the benefits but staying safe.
- Keep your body hydrated- Make sure to drink lots of water during and after your yoga session. Even if you don’t feel tired or you’re not sweating, yoga is a physical activity, and your body needs to stay hydrated to keep from harming muscles.
- Take rest days- Allowing your body to rest is just as important as practicing yoga. Try to rest at least every two to three days so your body can recover.
How Visiting Angels Can Help
If you want to start the journey to improving your health, the team at Visiting Angels Jasper, Alabama, can help. Our compassionate caregivers can help you find nearby yoga studios to attend, provide transportation, and even help revamp your diet with healthy home-cooked meals. Caregivers can also help with light housekeeping, medication reminders, personal grooming, and more.