19 August 2021

Yoga for seniors – why it’s useful and how to get started

Group of seniors doing yoga together

If you are looking for new ways to stay active, improve your mobility, focus on your mental health or become more social (or all of the above), why not start yoga? A wonderful practice to introduce at any age, in this article, learn some of the benefits of yoga for elderly people and get some tips on how to get started.

Why is yoga for seniors beneficial?

It can help increase your mobility

The biggest advantage yoga can have to those of any age is an increase in mobility. For those who have gotten to their point where looking at stairlift prices is a reality, you may think the yoga is out of reach but actually, there is a style of yoga which everyone in every situation is able to do, whether standard yoga, restorative yoga, chair yoga or more.

Louise Tonge, the Studio Owner at Sandstone Yoga & Pilates, spoke to us about this, explaining: “At Sandstone we strongly believe that yoga can be beneficial for everyone and not just the very flexible and mobile. Indeed, many of our class participants are in a later life stage and/or working with limited mobility.

“As the body gets older it is important to incorporate movement into your daily life. Yoga is a great way to do this. It is low impact and participating regularly can help to reduce inflammation, improve and maintain mobility, as well as increasing strength and stability, reducing the likelihood of falls.”

Yoga can really help with all manner of things, from offering improved flexibility to building core strength and widening your range of motion. The team from Special Yoga, a company that teaches yoga to those with special and additional needs, tell us: “Yoga is fully accessible. It is about feeling more comfortable in your body and mind and not how far you can stretch! It is especially beneficial for people who are in their senior years or with limited mobility as it offers a variety of practices which can be adapted to the person. A good tip as a starting point is to start with a chair yoga practice so you feel supported as you start to learn and enjoy!”

It can have mental health benefits

Senior couple doing yoga in the park

We all know that physical activity in any form can be beneficial for our mental health and yoga is no different. A low impact and relaxing pastime, yoga allows you to get your blood flowing without having to tire yourself and gives you time to think and reflect.

It can help your breathing

Being able to slow down and focus on your breathing can have many benefits, and yoga is able to help you do that in your day-to-day life as my types of yoga incorporate breathing exercises. Jane Macpherson of Jane Macpherson Yoga explains: “As we grow older, it is so important to keep ourselves as strong, flexible and mobile as possible. Yoga can help in many ways to keep our joints and muscles strong and our spines flexible. It can help with practice deep breathing which can become shallower as we get older because of posture, ill health and a sedentary lifestyle.

“Gentle and slow rotations of our joints moving with our breath can be practised by anyone standing, sitting or lying down. Start at your toes and work up your body feeling the movement in all your joints. Never move through pain but enjoy the feeling of movement and ease this simple practice can give you.”

It can help you meet new people

Whether it’s connecting with people online or at local groups, finding a new hobby can open up the door to creating new connections with new people. In later life, it can be easy to feel more isolated and for those in this position finding a common connection through yoga for old people can be a great help.

READ MORE: Simple things you can do to keep healthy (that isn't exercise)

Why is yoga for seniors beneficial?

  • It can help increase your mobility
  • It can have mental health benefits
  • It can help you meet new people

Person rolling up yoga mat

How to get started with yoga in later life

Find videos and classes online

We know that when starting a new hobby, it can be intimidating to jump straight into a group or club, but don’t worry, with yoga, the easiest way to start is in your own home. All you need is a mat (although you don’t even really need that!) and some comfortable clothes and access to the internet. Online, you’ll be able to find an array of yoga instructional videos and websites that can offer some great advice. So, if you are apprehensive about getting started or just want to dip your toes in the water, then why not start in the comfort of your own home first?

Find local classes and groups

For those who’d prefer to learn offline and visit a class where they can get one-on-one instruction and meet new people, you’d be surprised how many local classes and groups you’re likely to have access to. Yoga is popular all around the UK and as such, you can find yoga classes at gyms and leisure centres as well as private yoga instructors.

If you are unsure whether a class is for you, Louise from Sandstone Yoga offers this advice: “If you would like to join a class but are concerned about your limited mobility, I’d recommend speaking to the teacher beforehand. An experienced teacher understands that each body is unique, and a yoga posture will look different in every body.  As a result, they will be able to give suggestions and offer variations tailored to you so you can get the most out of the class.”

Set a time to practice

As with any hobby you want to bring into your life, setting a time to practice is of paramount importance. Trying to introduce a new hobby, but not giving it any time, can mean you easily overlook it and focus on other things instead, however, setting a time to practice helps you avoid this mistake. This can be simple if you do join an online or local class or group, as you’ll have a set time to meet each week, but if you are practising yoga independently, try to fix a time each week where you practice also.

As you can see, there are many great benefits of yoga and it’s easier to get into than one may think. So, hopefully, you can start your journey to becoming a seasoned yogi and experience all of the benefits whilst you do!

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