Yoga is not just for the young. According to one study, 18.4% of the 15.8 million yoga practitioners in America are over the age of 55. Why do older adults like yoga?
One, it is low impact making it easy on the joints. Many other types of exercises, such as cardio, hurt arthritic joints such as shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.
Two, it can lessen the effects of many medical conditions, like chronic back pain, Type 2 diabetes and arthritis, along with improving heart health and quality of sleep – all issues that seem to effect seniors more so than other younger age populations.
Three, it increases joint flexibility. As we age, our joints begin to stiffen. By doing a series of different yoga poses two to three times per week, you can actually get back some of joint range of motion you lost over time.
Four, yoga restores balance. As falls are a major cause of broken bones among seniors, regaining your balance can save you a trip to the emergency room and follow-up pain and care afterwards.
Five, it keeps the mind sharp. Yoga not only is a physical type of exercise for the body, but also exercise for the mind. Most types of yoga involves meditation which can keep your thinking clear.
Which Yoga Class Is Right for You?
If you are just starting yoga, be sure to get in a class geared to your level – beginner or Level One. Not only will you learn how to do the poses correctly, but it will move at a pace more comfortable for older adults. Even after learning how to do yoga, be sure your class is geared toward seniors. If you have some physical limitations already, then look for a “restorative” class.
With over 100 types of yoga at last count, it can be hard to choose a type that will be right for you. Ashtanga, iyengar, hatha and vinyasa are all good types to choose at the beginner level.
One type you will probably want to avoid as a senior is Bikram Yoga. It is done in hot/humid environment with a room temperature of 105 degrees F and 40% humidity.
To find a beginner yoga class in your area, look no further than adult education programs, YMCA/YWCAs, libraries, gyms and other community organizations. If you belong to a health club, most offer yoga classes. Some include classes as part of a membership while others offer it for a fee. Most classes last 60 to 90 minutes.
Regardless of the status of your health, yoga will most likely be able to help you. The key is finding the right class so try out a few different types of yoga to see which one is right for you. Five-thousand years of yoga teachings can’t be all wrong.