If you’re over the age of 50 and asking yourself if yoga is right for you, the answer is a resounding yes! Assuming you’re generally healthy (always check with your doctor before starting any physical exercise), yoga is the perfect activity to strengthen your muscles, gain more flexibility and deepen your spirituality.
The key is finding the right type of yoga. You’d be surprised just how many disciplines of yoga exist. And while yoga for seniors isn’t necessarily a specific discipline, some types of yoga are more physical while others are a bit less strenuous. Any yoga you choose should be somewhat challenging, but it’s ok to test a few different options before settling on one or two that feel most comfortable.
Benefits of yoga for ageing bodies
There are a number of reasons why yoga is beneficial for ageing bodies. These four benefits stand out the most:
Easy on joints and limbs
Yoga doesn’t require any heavy lifting or running, which are also good ways to exercise but can put some strain on your joints. Yoga does the opposite. It helps you become more flexible so you can feel more confident doing daily movements that involve reaching and bending.
Doesn’t require a lot of equipment
All you really need to do yoga is a space within your home and a yoga mat. The yoga mat isn’t absolutely necessary, but it is highly recommended that you use one. There are many movements that require you to be on your stomach or back, and that can become uncomfortable without a mat. Learn more about how to build your own yoga routine at home.
It’s the perfect mind & body workout
Yoga is more than just a physical exercise. At its core, yoga is a way to focus your mind and build your spirituality while engaging in movements that strengthen your body. Staying mentally sharp becomes more important as you age, and yoga helps keep your mind and body active.
A study by the Journal of Health and Kinetics showed that practicing yoga three times a week can show improvement in your lung capacity in as little as 12 weeks. Better breathing improves your overall pulmonary health, which is crucial for smooth blood flow.
Is yoga safe for seniors?
Yes, it is. Again, you’ll always want to speak to your physician before starting any kind of rigorous exercise, but yoga is perfect for seniors, especially if you’re retired. You’ll have more time to dedicate to experimenting with the different yoga styles, plus it becomes easier to incorporate it into your day.
The variety of yoga moves and routines make it likely you’ll find one that matches your current level of comfort. As we’ll explain, seated yoga poses make doing the exercises more possible, along with a variety of more gentle yoga disciplines that make yoga perfectly safe for seniors.
What type of yoga is best for seniors?
We mentioned that there are a number of different types of yoga. Some yoga styles can be aggressive and physical, while others are far more focused on using movement to connect and elevate your spirituality. Only you can decide which is right for you, but here are a few options.
Chair yoga is exactly what it sounds like. You’re still actively doing whatever yoga poses are possible; the only difference is you use the support of a yoga chair, which is any chair in your home with back support. This is beneficial for you if standing for long periods of time or your general mobility is an issue. You can try chair yoga with one of our Boomerang yogis.
Restorative yoga is much more about breathing and taking your time with each pose rather than speed. On the scale of physical to spiritual, this definitely leans to the spiritual side. You move at your own pace and concentrate on how you feel as you pose.
Keeping it on the subtle, less physical side, yin yoga is another style focused more on finding your inner peace than breaking a real sweat. While the movements can be challenging, the process of yin yoga involves meditation and deep breathing with the goal of achieving mental stillness.
OK, we don’t want you falling asleep, so let’s get you moving. Vinyasa yoga is far more physical than the previous ones we’ve mentioned. It’s not quite a HIIT workout, but you’ll be sweating and trying poses that you won’t get on your first try. Don’t get discouraged. Vinyasa yoga is meant to be physically challenging.
Slow yoga is the balance between physical and more spiritual or meditative yoga. You won’t be transitioning in and out of as many poses, but you’ll maintain a steady flow throughout the duration of your workout.
Taking a step back, Iyengar yoga is a great style for beginners. You get a chance to ease into each of your poses while focusing on the form of your movement and your breathing. As you advance, you can still use Iyengar yoga on your lighter days.
Anyone can do functional yoga because it isn’t a style of yoga at all. Functional yoga takes the approach that everyone is different and functioning at different levels of athleticism. You can apply functional yoga to any style you choose, which means you essentially adapt the yoga style to your comfort level.
This is an interesting yoga practice. It’s not about movement at all. Instead, you lie on your back and enter a meditative state. It makes more sense when you realize Yoga Nidra is also called Yogic Sleep. Its mission is to put your body in a complete state of rest.
What type of yoga is easiest for older adults?
No, this isn’t a trick question, although there really is no answer. What may be challenging for you can be more simple for someone else. It’s all about experimenting with different types of yoga until you find one that works for your personal goals.
How often should seniors do yoga?
As is suggested with most forms of exercise, doing at least three sessions a week is ideal if you want to feel the benefits. However, how often you do yoga is something you should discuss with your physician before making any decisions. Even though some forms of yoga are light, they do involve methods of breathing that aren’t typical. Also, doing some yoga is better than doing none at all, so if you can only commit to doing one day a week, do it!
Try Boomerang’s yoga workshops
Sign up for Boomerang and try any one of our yoga workshops. You’ll be part of a trusted and engaged community who are looking for new experiences or ways to stay physically and mentally active just like you. Signing up for Boomerang also gives you access to our health and wellness workshops, along with other useful member benefits.
View all our upcoming workshops and classes