Yoga for Seniors: Your Comprehensive Guide

A 2016 study found out that a staggering 14 million yoga practitioners are over 50 years of age.

Undoubtedly, yoga for seniors is considered of the fastest growing demographic today.

As more and more people are aiming to achieve quality life as they enter their senior years, many are discovering the amazing health benefits only yoga can give.

If you are considering incorporating yoga in your day-to-day life, the following basics of the practice should get you off to a good start:

Which yoga type is the best fit for you?

Before deciding on the yoga style to go for, it is important to take into account key factors such as your:

  • physical condition
  • medical health
  • level of fitness
  • age

You need to also factor in your personal preference prior to deciding on the right style for you.

In line with this, it would be best to try out different classes before making a decision.

However, first and foremost, you need to check with your doctor first before starting yoga or any other exercise regimen.

What are some of the ideal yoga styles for seniors?

When it comes to yoga styles, the list in endless.

If you are not familiar with the options available, choosing the best fit for you can get daunting, if not overwhelming.

Ideally, “gentle yoga” is deemed ideal for seniors.

Gentle yoga is the term given to yoga styles that are less intense, non-strenuous, restorative, and meditative in nature.

The following are some of the styles that fall into the gentle yoga category:

  • Kripalu – this type tailors postures to the practitioner so they can perform the movements at a pace they are comfortable with.
  • Hatha – this is the general term given to classes that combine diverse yoga styles to come up with something ideal for beginners. Hatha yoga is also good for those who prefer to stick with the essentials.
  • Iyengar – this style creates tailored postures that can be executed easily using props for proper alignment and support.
  • Sivananda – this style is considered ideal for beginners and those who want poses to be modified to fit their pace and physical capabilities.

How will you find yoga classes for you?

While it is possible to learn yoga from videos and books, joining a yoga class is always deemed advisable especially for beginners.

Because a qualified and seasoned yoga instructor can provide the right guidance and help, you can reduce your injury risk dramatically.

To find senior yoga classes in your area, check:

  • Gyms
  • Health clubs
  • Retirement communities
  • Local senior centers
  • Wellness magazines
  • Events guide
  • Local newspapers

How do you adequately prepare for your first yoga class?

Attending your first class can be nerve-wracking but more often than not, you’ll most likely find your yoga class to be a welcoming and friendly place.

However, to put your mind at ease, here’s what you can do to prepare and what you can expect when you get there:

What to wear

Somewhat fitting yet comfortable clothing is deemed ideal as many yoga styles will entail stretching and bending when executing different poses.

While yoga is often done barefoot, you can also wear non-slip yoga socks as an added precaution.

What to bring

While you can also report to class empty-handed, you can also consider the following items essentials:

  • Your own yoga mat
  • Towel
  • Water bottle
  • Medical ID bracelet
  • Doctor’s details (in case of any emergency)

How to act

While yoga etiquette can differ from one studio to another, general etiquette during yoga class includes:

  • Be in class early – arriving at least 10 minutes before class is considered ideal. Doing so will give you ample time to feel comfortable in the studio, find your own place in the room, and discuss any concerns with your instructor, among other things.
  • Turn your mobile phone off – the yoga studio should be a place where you can get away from it all, worries, cares, and concerns. That being said, it should be a time where you can focus on relaxing so you can get the most out of the practice.
  • Finish the entire class – it can be very tempting to leave the class before savasana (final relaxation) because it will appear like something you can easily forego. But savasana is considered a crucial part of yoga as it will help you fully relax and reap the benefits of the practice.
  • Don’t push yourself – if you are new to the practice, it is important to know your limitations. Do things at your own pace and gradually build up your flexibility and strength as you go along. If there are challenging postures that you cannot do yet, don’t shy away from doing the child’s pose or you can spend the time meditating quietly instead.
  • Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask question – consider this one of the most beneficial tips especially when you first start out. Don’t think twice about asking for help and guidance be it from your fellow students or your instructor. For guidance in the execution of postures, consider asking your instructor your best option.

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