Another great activity for seniors is Yoga training. The gentle postures (asanas) and slow, centered movements of Hatha Yoga are the perfect way to loosen tight joints and relieve pain.
The effect that a regular practice of Yoga asanas has on an individual is amazing. The asanas stretch and strengthen all of the muscles and ligaments in the body. The physical practice of asana also keeps the joints mobile and the spine flexible. Furthermore, the poses help to maintain bone density, a good sense of balance, and coordination.
According to Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, the quickest-growing segment of the American population consists of seniors over the age of 65, and many of these are turning to Yoga to stay mentally and physically fit. Considering the fact that statisticians expect the number of these seniors to double to 80 million by 2050, there is obviously a need for Yoga instructors trained to work with older students.
The yoga programs that are for seniors or older people are generally a little easier on the joints, and require less extreme stretching. Any beginning class is also good for seniors as long as they know their own limitations. Of course, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before you start taking any type of class, and that includes a yoga class.
Whether you are a practitioner or you have taken a few yoga teacher certification courses, you know that a regular practice helps to keep the body the body young. In fact, some seniors who practice yoga refer to it as a “fountain of youth.”
When I began teaching yoga in the early 1970’s, the term, “yoga props,” was practically unheard of. When we sat on the floor to practice seated forward bends, people who could not touch their toes simply held onto their lower legs. Then someone had the bright idea to wrap a sock, towel, belt or an old neck tie around the foot to hang onto while stretching forward. While not as versatile as the modern prop known as a yoga strap, these early around-the-house props actually worked quite well!