By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
What are the best Yoga programs for seniors? The best classes for seniors are those that meet your needs right away. Let’s go over information and videos that will help you develop your practice today. Yoga is an exercise that can be practiced at any age. Its low-impact nature makes it suited for people with joint pain, osteoporosis, or limited mobility, including seniors. Depending on your ability, you can also practice poses without modifications. Some classes will use chairs, but some will not. The biggest difference is your mobility. If you are not able to get up and down from the floor, a chair prevents falls. Teachers will be different from each other in method, philosophy, and compassion level. Lastly, videos are extremely helpful for home practice. Below is a video class with Adriene Mishler, which is specifically designed for seniors.
Consult Your Doctor
Should you consult your physician? Of course, it’s wise to consult with your physician before practicing Yoga. Besides, your doctor knows your case and medical history better than anyone. While any competent Yoga teacher, can keep you safe, it’s good to have an endorsement from your doctor. The best Yoga programs for seniors are better for your joints and don’t force you into postures. Most beginner and gentle classes are senior-friendly. The key to beginning classes is to know your range of motion and strength. Always be gentle and avoid forcing yourself into Yoga poses.
Where to Start?
Firstly, you want to look at your choices. You can practice Yoga online, use streaming videos, use a DVD, or attend a class. Secondly, Yoga can improve your health in a number of ways. However, due to COVID, attending a studio or health club might not be your preference. Thirdly, regardless of practicing at home or in a fitness center, your safety is the most important factor. The best Yoga programs for seniors have a variety of modifications for all abilities.
Classes for a Mature Audience
Many Yoga programs are aimed primarily at adults. However, the best Yoga programs for seniors are designed for student safety and maximum health benefits. Teachers focus much of their attention on keeping us in the marathon of life. Trying to help us become a little more mobile and flexible is what Yoga teachers want. As we get older, we fail to move as often as we should. As we develop habits of not moving, we lose a lot of flexibility, which means life hurts. So, practicing Yoga helps us in all parts of our life.
Why and How Should I Begin?
Yoga is an excellent way to reduce stress, improve your mental health, increase focus, and maintain physical health. Yoga is proven to enhance cognitive health in seniors. If you are practicing for the first time at home fifteen minutes is a good start. Then, you can gradually work your way up to a half-hour, or more. Yoga and any exercise sessions should be monitored carefully to prevent injury. It is always best to watch a video first, without practicing to know the routine. When you first begin to practice, one to three times per week is a good start. Find an online or in-person teacher who shows modifications.
Home Practice Sessions
How do you practice Yoga correctly at home? There are many variations of basic poses (called asanas). With Zoom, you can work with teachers in real-time. If you have been practicing a while, you have a good foundation of knowledge. In that case, you should practice with the help of streaming videos. Nevertheless, be sure you are in a relaxed and calm place. The point is to be at peace during practice time. Yoga has all the tools to improve your health in many ways. If possible finish your session with 10 minutes of deep relaxation to relax your mind. Relaxation or meditation leads to deeper sleep patterns at night and enhanced energy throughout the day.
Will Music Help?
First, music is not required. However, if you are familiar with your sequence, music adds much more to the complete experience. My personal preference is Native American music, but anything relaxing will do. Some people find music therapeutic, while others feel it is a distraction. When listening to music and sounds, you can customize the experience by selecting what you like. Ultimately, you will find music or healing sounds that meet your needs.
Modifications give students accessible ways to practice techniques. We may often refer to a chair as the number one prop for seniors. In fact, props are often used to modify a pose. However, Yoga breathing (pranayama) techniques can also be modified. At the same time, a five-minute meditation is a modification. With that said, any time we alter a technique from the traditional method that is a modification. Some traditionalists frown on modifications. Regardless of what anyone says, making Yoga accessible is a good thing for everyone.
Classes for All of Us
When you research Yoga, you will be able to find several different types of Yoga classes. These styles will include gentle or restorative posture practices that are aimed primarily at people who are older. Remember, if you attend classes, you are not trying to outstretch the person on the next mat. Asana practice is a solitary pursuit and although the person next to you is flexible, there is no contest.
Regardless of the cause, blood circulation is a major issue for many seniors. It’s important to improve cardiovascular health. The best Yoga programs for seniors help us build muscle, but they also address cardiovascular circulation. We also know that the daily Yogic movements help us burn some of the calories consumed each day. Make no mistake, Yoga will improve your circulation during your first class. To put it another way, low-impact movement is far better for your cardiovascular circulation than no movement at all.
What About Age?
If you can sit in a chair, you can practice Yoga. In fact, I know people who practiced Yoga in their hospital beds. One of them was recovering from a stroke and she began practicing in a hospital bed the day after the stroke. If anyone wants to look on the negative side, it’s easy to make an excuse. On the positive side, age is not a factor, because if you can breathe, you can still practice. In brief, there are one thousand excuses to quit and one reason to stay. The best Yoga programs for seniors have students who know what they want. Most people want to be healthy and happy, but some of them actually take action to make it happen. Additionally, when you practice, you get to experience how great it feels to be completely relaxed.
About Poses and Posturing
Yoga poses are the postures practiced during class time. Posturing is one of the easiest aspects of Yoga. These poses range from seated, kneeling, full-body floor poses, or standing postures. Complicated poses that require deeper knowledge will often begin with less strenuous variations. The practice involves both mental and physical participation. Throughout one’s practice, there is a state of witnessing sensations (self-awareness). However, for many people who practice at home, it’s likely that a focused practice will result sooner. Without distractions, the state of witnessing is easier to attain. This is why serious students practice at home and in the studio.
How Do Poses Help?
What can you learn from practicing Yoga poses? Sometimes, people new to Yoga get hyper-focused on their physical practice of poses. In short, Yoga poses are therapeutic, and they make you feel good. In order to truly benefit from Yoga, one must first practice consistently and cultivate a greater understanding of the mind-body connection. Ordinarily, you find relief through a committed and balanced practice.
The poses themselves can help people increase their awareness. With steady practice, Yoga practitioners expand their ability to witness, become self-aware, and develop intuition. However, the easiest way to establish a mind and body connection is by practicing Yogic breathing (pranayama). Pranayama practice makes a significant difference in the ability to focus. When pranayama is supporting an overall healing and healthy lifestyle, the practice has a positive and cumulative effect.
The Journey Continues
Physical Yoga practice creates states of euphoria. There are many benefits to practicing Yoga. One study from McMaster University found that seniors who practiced Yoga had higher levels of endurance after three months. Additional studies with seniors have found that Yoga helps improve balance and flexibility, as well as manage anxiety and depression. Overall, these findings lead to lower healthcare costs among older adults with chronic illnesses like diabetes and arthritis.
What About Meditation?
Meditation is proven to have both psychological and physical benefits. People who meditate have lower stress levels, healthier respiratory functions, improved heart health, and lowered blood pressure. Meditation also provides relief from many types of chronic pain. Since meditation releases natural feel-good hormones that benefit the immune system, some doctors recommend it as a treatment for patients.
Long-Term Benefits of Meditation
Participants who incorporate meditation into their lives experience a wide range of benefits that improve their quality of life. Studies have shown that depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental disorders can be treated with a regimen of daily mediation. Depression rates alone have been reduced as a direct result of Yoga classes for seniors and meditation therapy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that those with pre-existing conditions who better manage their health problems have a prolonged lifespan. Other results have shown no changes in mortality rates for those with chronic diseases thanks to increased awareness from meditation.
The best Yoga programs for seniors have meditation, which has long been touted as one of the best remedies for managing stress and anxiety. Meditation also helps to lower blood pressure, increase creativity, and calm agitation. Researchers at UCLA conducted an experiment with 29 seniors who exhibited significant signs of depression-like lack of energy, sadness, unease, insomnia, loss of appetite, and social isolation. Participants were taught three meditation techniques (breath awareness; experiential focus; yoga) over the course of two weeks. At the end of the experiment, researchers found that not only did depression subside for eight out of 10 participants, but physical health improved as well.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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