Benefits of Gentle Yoga Stretches for Seniors
When thinking of yoga, you might picture young, hip people bending themselves into pretzel-like contortions. But that’s the extreme side. Yoga is actually a great low-impact way for people at every age to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Of all the different kinds of exercise, yoga might be the most versatile. You can do it practically anywhere, don’t need any special equipment, and most poses can be easily modified to accommodate for arthritis or limited mobility.
According to a study reported by A Place for Mom, there are several health benefits for seniors such as improved joint health and mobility, reduced blood pressure, higher pulmonary function, improved mental health, and better sleep. Yoga is also a perfect fit with our commitment to help seniors thrive in mind, body, and spirit.
Here are a few gentle yoga poses for seniors to try!
Legs Up the Wall
If you haven’t been active in a while, this pose lets you gently release tension and increase the flexibility of your lower back and legs.
- Lay down perpendicular to a wall.
- Walk your legs up the wall, until the backs of your legs are against the wall.
- Your arms should remain relaxed at your sides.
- Breathe deeply through the stretch.
- Slowly walk your legs back down from the wall.
To increase your balance, try this standing pose. You can grab onto something stable for support when you need to.
- Stand with your legs together and arms straight up over your head.
- Press your palms together.
- Keeping your toes on the ground, bend the right knee and slowly lift the right heel off the ground so it touches the inside of the left ankle.
- Try to balance in this position.
- Do the same sequence with your other leg.
- Over time, as you build up the balance to hold this pose longer, work toward lifting the heel of the bending leg until it rests above the knee of your supporting leg.
This pose is the foundation of all standing poses, and makes a great starting position, resting pose, or tool to improve posture.
- Stand with the feel parallel, and a few inches apart.
- Lift and spread your toes, then lay them softly back down on the floor.
- Balance your weight evenly across your feet.
- Without pushing your ribs forward, lift your chest toward the ceiling.
- Allow your shoulder blades to draw toward each other and down the back.
- Let your arms relax beside your torso, palms facing in or forward.
- Balance directly over your center, with your chin parallel to the floor and breathe.
This yoga sequence helps develop postural awareness and balance throughout the body. It brings the spine into correct alignment, and brings flexibility to the spine which can prevent back pain.
- Start on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Point your fingers to the top of your mat.
- Place your shins and knees hip-width apart.
- Center your head and gaze downward.
- Begin by moving into cow pose: inhale as you drop your stomach towards the mat.
- Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up.
- Next, move into cat pose: as you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling.
- The pose should look like a cat stretching its back.
- Inhale, coming moving slowly back into cow pose, and then exhale as you return to cat pose.
For rest in between difficult poses, try child's pose. This position stretches the thighs, hips, and ankles while also helping to relax the body and mind.
- Kneel on the floor with your toes together and your knees hip-width apart.
- Rest your palms on top of your thighs.
- On an exhale, lower your torso between your knees.
- Extend your arms alongside your torso with your palms facing down.
- Relax your shoulders toward the ground.
- Rest in the pose for as long as needed.
Now that you have five new poses for your yoga routine, it’s important that you make it a habit to keep moving to stay healthy and limber!