Once considered a mind-body workout for the young and nimble, yoga has proven itself beneficial to people of all ages and abilities. “Yoga seems tailor-made to address the health concerns of [older adult],” says yoga instructor Jane Adams, who has a highly-rated DVD titled “Yoga for Seniors with Jane Adams.” “Many of the common symptoms of aging – joint stiffness, reduced strength and flexibility, poor balance, chronic pain, arthritis, high blood pressure, low back pain, poor circulation, stress-related symptoms, insomnia, etc. – have been shown scientifically to be helped by yoga,” she explains.
Yoga can help improve mood, reduce isolation and maintain independence. There are many types of yoga and ways to participate, making it easy to find a program that’s right for you. Here are some options to get started or augment your current practice:
1. Take a Class
Group classes are the most popular choice, as nothing can beat having a teacher on hand to guide you. Choices include yoga studios, the gym or even community classes (such as those offered through community centers, senior centers, adult education programs, and parks and recreation departments). Yoga studios tend to have the most experienced instructors and the largest variety of class offerings, but can be more costly than the other options. If you’re new to yoga, a class specifically for older adults is a good place to start.
“Yoga can be adapted for any age and level of fitness,” Jane explains. “Seniors will be safest and benefit most by a yoga program that is designed specifically for seniors.” However, if you choose to take a mainstream class, just check with the teacher first and let him or her know about any physical issues or limitations. Many teachers will be happy to suggest modifications as they go through each posture or pose.
2. Press Play
If you’re looking for a convenient way to practice at home, all you have to do is press play. Yoga classes can be found on television, on the Internet and on DVD. For those just getting started, DVDs like Jane’s “Yoga for Seniors with Jane Adams” offer gentle yoga practice. Already a yoga pro? There are advanced digital classes too. To find a DVD that’s right for you, read the user reviews on sites such as yogajournal.com.
3. Crack a Book
Want to take yoga along with you when you travel or prefer written explanations? There are many excellent books on yoga, complete with illustrative photography. A few to check out that are specifically for older adults are:
- The American Yoga Association’s Easy Does It Yoga
- The New Yoga for Healthy Aging
- The New Yoga for People Over 50
“One of the main reasons I do yoga myself is because I want to live a long, active, independent life, and I believe yoga will help me more than anything else I know of,” Jane says.
With so many ways to practice yoga, it’s easy to incorporate it into your regular routine and reap the healthy rewards.