Yoga for seniors offers a wide range of benefits. The physical benefits of yoga are vast – and so are the mental benefits. But there are also risks associated with practicing yoga, which can increase with age.
That’s why it’s important for older yogis to know how to honor their bodies for a safe, fulfilling, and beneficial practice. And regardless of your age, it’s so important in a physical yoga practice to honor where your body is at, because whether you’re 18 or 81, your body changes day to day and pose to pose.
Yoga for seniors can be an incredibly rewarding practice, from helping to release physical tension to learning techniques for mindfulness and presence, yoga is truly a practice for every body at any age.
Read on to learn how seniors specifically can get the most out of their time on the yoga mat.
Yoga for Seniors: Follow These 5 Tips for a Safe, Effective, and Fulfilling Practice:
1. Know What to Expect
Whether you’ve practiced yoga before or are preparing for your first class, know what to expect going in. Part of knowing what to expect is knowing what type of class you’re taking (is it a yoga for seniors class, or something that’s accessible or is it an all levels flow that may or may not be within your comfort zone?).
As we age, our bodies change, as do the yoga classes that can benefit us the most, which is why it’s important to find styles of yoga that are beneficial to where you’re at currently.
If you want more information on the many different styles of yoga, check out A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga: 14 Yoga Disciplines Defined + Explained
Another key part is who your teacher is. While most yoga teachers should be able to accommodate any questions, modifications or general needs of each student, it’s still a good idea to know who you’re going to take class from. Which leads us to #2!
2. Find a Teacher That Fits Your Needs
This yoga advice applies to anyone who practices yoga. From their teaching style and yoga disciplines they teach to their focus on alignment and clear guidance in each pose, it’s important to find a teacher that you resonate with.
When it comes to yoga for seniors, it’s just as important to find a teacher that you connect with. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to be your age, finding a more experienced teacher is always a good idea. They will be knowledgable, supportive, and attentive to your needs.
3. Be Familiar With Your Edge – And Your Options
While this is important for senior yogis, it’s another piece of yoga advice for anyone who practices. It is important for all yogis to be open to practicing different yoga poses or variations to accommodate their body and where it’s at today, without judgment.
Don’t be afraid to modify or skip any yoga pose offered during your yoga class – this is an important message for yogis of any age. An easy way to get hurt in yoga is to ignore the warning signs in your body or push yourself beyond your limits.
Senior yogis should move gently and mindfully, exploring each yoga pose. Making these small, subtle adjustments is a great way to connect to your body and notice if an adjustment or modification in any given pose better serves your body.
Regardless of age or experience level, you should always stop the moment you feel pain – this will make your yoga practice that much more safe and beneficial.
It’s important to explore your options in each class and during each pose. In addition to taking a variation or modification that better suits your body, yoga props also offer more options for a safe and effective yoga for seniors practice, which leads us to #4!
4. Use Yoga Props
For some, yoga props carry a stigma of being a crutch, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Yoga props offer support, they help you safely access a yoga pose with proper form and alignment. They bring the floor to you, they help create more space and flexibility in a pose, and also help you access a deeper expression of a pose over time.
Whether you have sensitive joints and want to fold a yoga blanket beneath your knees, a yoga strap to aid in stretching, or keep yoga blocks on hand for any pose that would otherwise cause strain (think beneath the bottom hand in Triangle Pose, or for support in Bridge Pose), yoga props are your friends – use them often!
Check out 10 Yoga Props to Enhance Your Practice for help in safely modifying your yoga practice
5. Cultivate a Regular Breathwork and Meditation Practice
In addition to yoga, a regular meditation practice has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, aid in better sleep and increased energy, and has even been shown to slow the aging process.
Want to learn more? Read: 6 Key Benefits of Meditation (Backed by Hard Science!)
Breathwork is also immensely beneficial for anyone, but as we age, it becomes increasingly important to practice regularly.
Conscious breathwork (which can mean any form of Pranayama that you may practice in yoga, but can also mean simply breathing deeply and with awareness) can reduce stress and anxiety, improve lung health and capacity, and also improve sleep and blood pressure.
Bonus Tip! Maintain a Positive Attitude
This can be a challenging one for all of us, but it’s so important to maintain a positive mindset. It’s easy to take things for granted – like our bodies and what they are capable of. When we can maintain a sense of gratitude and appreciation, we move past any limiting beliefs or judgments about ourselves, our bodies or our practice.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re not able to access a certain pose. Instead, find a different pose that works for you and honor your ability to navigate what your body needs that day – this is the sign of a true ‘advanced’ yoga practitioner.
Regardless of our age, we should all have gratitude for the present moment, for our body’s health and ability to practice yoga.
Yoga for Seniors: The Takeaway
Yoga is an incredibly beneficial mind-body-soul practice for anyone at any age. And yoga is truly for every body, regardless of your age or your abilities.
The point is to show up with an open mind, a grateful heart, and a willingness to meet your body exactly where it’s at. This is the daily practice of yoga.
And when it comes to yoga for seniors, being prepared, finding a teacher you align with, knowing your edge and your options, using yoga props and maintaining a regular meditation and breathwork practice – all with a positive attitude – is your ticket to a safe, effective, and fulfilling yoga practice.
Senior yogis – have any questions? Have additional tips for a safe and effective yoga practice that you’d like to share? Please tell us in the comments below – we love hearing from you!