People of all ages can enjoy and benefit from practicing yoga. As people age, their joints become less flexible and they usually get less physical activity. Specially designed yoga classes can help counter some of the effects of aging. It is estimated that the senior population will double from now through 2050, to 80 million adults. There are numerous benefits of yoga’s effectiveness on aging and below are just a few:
While yoga can be practiced as a solitary, meditative experience, many senior yoga classes are more social. Participants may be on mats, or sitting in chairs in a circle, interacting with each other while participating in the class. Seniors living alone thrive on the social interaction provided by their yoga classes. Many who would not venture out to regular exercise classes can be coaxed into trying yoga, for its physical and mental benefits.
Chair Yoga for Seniors
Most people, unless we remain active, become less flexible and limber with age. Chair yoga classes have been designed to allow seniors to remain upright, and in their comfort zone without needing to move down to the floor and back up, repeatedly. Traditional poses are modified so that they may be accomplished for the benefit of the practitioner, while remaining seated.
Yoga Poses for Seniors
Certain yoga poses work better for people with limited flexibility or mobility. Some recommended poses for seniors are: Easy Pose, Lateral Sitting twist, Bridge Pose, Seated Forward Bend Downward Dog, Half spinal twist, Warrior II, and Tree Pose are all great poses for seniors. As with all exercises, practitioners need to monitor their own bodies and stop or ask for assistance if a pose does not agree with them.
Health Benefits for Seniors
Social interaction in yoga classes is as beneficial to mental health as the poses themselves are for physical health. Seniors participating in yoga classes report that they are happier, overall, and have a higher sense of well-being. They also have more self-confidence, as they regain strength and flexibility. Other physical health benefits include increased circulation, and better ability to sleep.
Yoga can benefit people throughout all stages of their lives. The mental and physical benefits of yoga extend to everybody at every age! The most important thing to remember when starting yoga is to go slow and know your limits. Seniors who have not exercised in a while should seek out gentle beginner's classes. Look for classes in styles such as Iyengar, Yin, or Hatha. Seniors with limited mobility may enjoy chair yoga or water yoga to take pressure off the feet and joints.
Baby Cradle pose or Leg Cradle pose, is a seated hip-opener that also stretches the hamstrings and calf muscles. It is a slight variation of pigeon pose and is sometimes also known as rock the baby pose. Although this pose is considered a beginner level yoga asana, its benefits can be profound. This asana is a wonderful yet gentle preparation for meditation and for more challenging asanas, such as full lotus and pigeon pose.
How to do Hindolasana
1. Begin in Dandasana / Staff Pose.
2. Inhale and lift your right leg up.
3. Place your right foot on your left forearm, and your right knee on your right forearm.
4. Clasp for fingers and bring your right shin close to your chest.
5. Twist your upper body to right side and then to your left side.
To come out of this pose, release your foot and sit in Dandasana / Staff Pose.
Repeat the sequence on your left side for the same length of time.
If this pose causes your lower back to round, or doesn’t feel good for your knee, try a seated figure four stretch instead, planting your feet on the floor and your palms or fingertips on the floor behind you. Lean back (keeping a long spine); cross your right ankle over your left thigh, keeping your right foot flexed; and walk your hands back until you find a position where you’re able to maintain a gentle curve in your lower back.
Caution: Do not attempt this pose if you have knee or hip injury.
Yin Yoga, is a quiet yoga practice with long held poses structured to access your connective tissues, while healing both your physical and energetic body. The tissues accessed by yin yoga are responsible for 47% of your body's limited range of motion. By holding specific yoga asanas (poses) for 3-20 minutes, we can create ample space to allow rest and relaxation into our lives; while offering new depths of flexibility and quiet peaceful thoughts into our overthinking minds.
Practice these postures sequentially as listed above, allowing for 3-6 minutes in each pose. The postures that are suggested here can be held for less time if needed. Be certain to honor your practice, and release sooner or change the angle of the pose if you begin to feel pain or sharp sensation arises. Get creative with how you navigate your experience, and be sure to give yourself at least 1-2 minutes between postures, especially when first practicing Yin. Static, muscular holds and even some slow, controlled dynamic movement are also appropriate ways to transition. It is normal to feel some fragility as you exit a posture, and that sensation may stay present for a minute or two. Finish your practice with Savasana for at least 5-10 minutes.
Caution: Not all yoga poses are suitable for everyone. Always consult your health care provider before practicing yoga or any other exercise program. The information provided in this blog is strictly for reference only and is not in any manner a substitute for medical advice.
Marjaryasana/Bitilasana (Cat/Cow pose) is a combination of two yoga poses that gently stretch and warm up your spine. The Sankrit name for cat cow pose is Marjaiasana. Marjay meaning cat and Bitil meaning cow (asana meaning pose). Cat/Cow pose consists of moving the spine from a rounded position to an arched position. Hence Cat/Cow pose is good for the spine. It’s a basic motions but it is enormously beneficial in preventing back pain and maintaining a healthy spine. Bringing movement and flexibility to your spine helps your body to become more coordinated. Try a few slow rounds of Cat-Cow when you wake in the morning, before bed, or after sitting for a long period. You may notice yourself walking taller throughout the day! 😊
How To Perform Cat-Cow Pose:
1. Start on the ground with a neutral spine in table-top position with your knees and hands on the floor. Your knees should be hip distance apart in line with your hips and your arms should be straightened and in line with your shoulders. Keep your head in line with your body and either close your eyes or gaze towards the ground.
2. Take an inhale while in this neutral spine position and then slowly exhale your breath while rounding your spine towards the sky, keeping your hands and knees where they are.
3. As you round your spine you will gently release your head towards the ground while making sure not to tense your neck. Engage your lower core muscles and really try to bring your tailbone towards the center of your body while rounding your back as high as you can.
4. Once you have released your entire breath in Cat Pose start to inhale deeply while dropping your belly towards the ground.
5. Begin to arch your back and lift your chest towards the sky keeping your neck in line with your spine. Release your lower belly to the ground while actively lifting your tailbone to the sky.
6. After a full inhale while in Cow Pose, start to slowly exhale your breath and move through to Cat Pose once again. Continue through the Cat-Cow sequence as many times as you need, maintaining a slow and steady breath the entire time.
Yin Yoga is a non-heated, slow-paced style of yoga in which asanas (postures), are held for longer times (sometimes for 5-10 minutes). This spiritual, meditative style of yoga is beneficial for recovery after injury, pain management and enhancing the mind-body connection. While more active yang styles, such as vinyasa yoga, focus on movement with the breath, strengthening and toning, yin is the opposite. Yin yoga targets the deep connective tissues, known as the fascia, within the body. This meditative style helps regulate energy flow throughout the body.
Yin Yoga Poses
Most yin poses are seated or reclined postures. You follow a more meditative approach to release tension from the fascia. Meditation is an important component to this style of yoga. You might initially struggle with sitting still and working through feelings and sensations that come up during each posture. Cultivating a meditative mindset is important for finding spiritual stillness, harmony and balance. Yin teaches you to truly sit still and listen to your body. Often it can be difficult to find moments of stillness and surrender. In yin practice, it is the perfect time to come into one's own body and mind, accept what is, and simply learn to be. This spiritual practice is important for working through not only physical limitations, but also past emotional ordeals.
Benefits of Yin Yoga
Benefits of a non-heated yin practice include: regulating energy levels in the body; calming and balancing the mind and body; increasing mobility, especially in the joints and hips; lower stress levels; and faster recovery from injury. Releasing tension from the fascia not only for movement, stamina and flexibility, but also achieving greater relaxation. Once you get into a regular practice, you can sit still longer for meditation and find the practice of meditating more rewarding and calming.
There are as many reasons for hip pain as there are approaches to resolving it. Hip joints connect the pelvis and leg bones. No wonder hip health relates to the back, knees, ankles and feet. So, what can you do? If you have a regular yoga practice, notice if your hips feel the same, better or worse after your practice and up to 48 hours after. Move in a way that does not increase the pain. Starting a yoga practice that includes gentle hip exercises can help relieve pain in the hips safely. Relieving hip pain can also relieve pain in the lower back, as tight hip flexors can misalign the pelvis and affect the muscles of the back. You may even want to consider a yoga therapy session. Here, you can find out which muscles are supporting your hips and which are overworking that should be resting. You don't need to understand the anatomy but you will learn to listen to your body for the answers. Here are 4 yoga poses for hip pain relief:
Bound Angle Pose can relieve hip pain caused by sciatica, while also stretching the inner thighs and groin. You may wish to sit on a folded blanket before starting, as this helps your pelvis tilt forward, aiding in the stretch. Start in a sitting position with your knees bent and the soles of your feet pressed together. Hold your feet, bringing your heels as close to your pelvis as is comfortable. If you can't comfortably hold your feet, hold your ankles or shins. Sit up straight, keeping your shoulders pressed down.
Happy Baby Pose gently stretches the hip flexors. Start by lying on your back. Bend your knees and bring them towards your chest so that you can grab the outsides of your feet. If you can't reach your feet, use a yoga strap or belt. Widen your legs, gently pulling your knees towards your armpits. Keep your shoulders pressed into the floor, and press your feet into your hands. Push your tailbone down towards the floor to release pressure on your lower back.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold stretches the hip flexors, while also stretching the spine and legs. Step your feet out so that they are hip-width apart (about 2 of your fists in between your feet). Put your hands on your hips and keep your spine long as you bend forward from the hips. Release your fingers to the floor directly under your shoulders. Relax your shoulders down your back so they don't press up around your ears. Place your hands back on your hips and keep your spine straight as you bend upward out of the pose.
Fire Log Pose is a hip opener that can be as gentle or as challenging as you'd like it to be. If needed, sit on a blanket to help your pelvis tilt forward. Place your left leg on top of your right leg so that your shins are lined up straight in front of you. Your left ankle should sit just outside of your right knee. Keep your torso straight and let your fingers graze the floor for support. For many, this is enough of a stretch, though you may also fold forward if you want to increase the stretch. Switch legs.
Your adrenal glands are located just above each of your kidneys and play a crucial role in many bodily functions, including balancing hormones. When there is a constant high amount of cortisol and adrenaline in the body, these important little glands become very tired. Their job is doubly hard with challenges like endometriosis, hormonal imbalances and other issues that are becoming common, particularly for many women.
If you're experiencing adrenal fatigue, then you probably already have some of the symptoms including difficulty falling asleep, easily frustrated or irritated, lack of concentration and mood swings. You may be having what could be the result of overworked adrenal glands, and a sustained "fight or flight" response in the body. That may sound like a lot very common symptoms, but unfortunately adrenal fatigue is very common, so the symptoms that arise are sometimes seen in our daily lives as just being “normal”. Because the adrenal glands are so important in regulating our stress response and aiding a huge number of bodily functions (including digestion), the body starts to down-regulate our body’s other less necessary tasks and it’s this down-regulation that often causes the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. The main culprit of adrenal fatigue is cortisol, an important hormone that’s become the infamous stress hormone. If you’ve got overactive cortisol, then your body tends to work in overdrive and then crash suddenly when you least expect it.
The one thing to note is that adrenal fatigue can sometimes take a while to develop, and therefore prevention is essential. It is also worth noting that it takes several months to restore balance to the system. My personal experience with recovery has been that there are good days and bad days. The best thing I have learned to do is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system – through deep breathing, relaxation and yoga! Above are some fantastic, refreshing and restorative yoga poses to replenish the adrenal glands.
Tips to Begin
Props are a great addition to a restorative yoga practice. If you don't have a bolster roll up a blanket. These poses are best enjoyed in a warm room where you will not be disturbed. Relax in these poses for 3-10 minutes per pose, breathing slowly and consciously through any tension or emotions that arise. The aim of the poses is to allow your body to relax, so if you feel uncomfortable at any point then use pillows or blankets as described, or slowly come out of the pose. Listen to your body and enjoy!
*The above article is for educational purposes only and should not replace the advice of a healthcare professional. Prior to beginning any exercise regimen including yoga, consult with your physician first.
It’s that time of year again when the weather begins to change and the temperatures get much colder. As most people spend more time indoors, the susceptibility of catching a cold rises. You have to drink plenty of fluids, get lots of rest and take the regular cold remedies, but practicing yoga during your cold or flu can also help get over your cold faster. Get on your yoga mat, but remember to take things slowly and rest when you feel like you need to rest. Remember that yoga poses for cold and flu should be easy and relaxing poses.
Here are a few yoga poses for cold sufferers:
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana): Brings energy to the head and respiratory area; helps clear the sinuses.
Supported Bridge Pose (Salamba Setu Bandhasana): Opens up the chest and increases circulation to the upper torso.
Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani): Brings energy to the groin and opens the chest area to facilitate breathing.
Supported Bound Angle Pose (Salamba Baddha Konasana): Opens the chest, abdomen, and groins; relaxes the nervous system.
Reclining Twist (Modified Jathara Parivartanasana): Releases physical and stress-based tension.
Widespread Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana): Quiets the internal organs; relaxes the mind.
Corpse Pose (Shavasana, Savasana): Most helpful with a towel roll placed from the lower spine to head to open up your breathing.
*The most important thing in practicing yoga while you’re sick is to wait until you are past the worst stages (or first few days) and regaining some of your energy. Always consult with your physician prior to beginning any yoga practice.
Savasana, also spelled Shavasana or Shivasana, means corpse pose. For many, Savasana may seem to be one of the easiest asanas, but that is not the case. Even though it may look very simple and non-beneficial, it’s actually the most important pose in yoga practice. It is the asana which gives you the opportunity to completely relax. As you lie down it makes you aware about your body and how each part of your body plays a very important role in your life.
As you go along meditating it relaxes each nerve of your body and improves your respiration which creates the areas for energy and vitality. It benefits mentally as well as physically, which helps in focusing your positive energy for a greater good. Mind and body should not waiver while in this asana. Full concentration is required and it may prove to be useful in times when you need it the most. A motionless mind and body helps you reach the level of optimum relaxation. Listening to a soothing voice or some chants may also help you reach that meditated level.
The respiratory and circulatory system is cleared and opens to a more refreshing life. The overworked muscles tend to relax when you are in this asana. Every system in the body relaxes which gives them the breathing space to conserve energy and be more useful later on. It is very beneficial for people who are heart patient as well as suffering from blood pressure. It helps in improving your stress level and may also relieve you from slight depression. Minor problems like headache, fatigue and insomnia may also be reduced.
One of yoga’s most profound teachings is to cultivate a state of surrendering to the Divine. In Savasana, we get to practice this. Every time we lie in Savasana, we experience a feeling of letting go, accepting what is, and surrendering to the present moment. It’s a great time to cultivate this relaxed and enlightened state of being.
Yoga offers many benefits, from reduced stress to improved strength and flexibility. But it can also be intimidating to some people. You may not be able to keep up with the pace in a yoga class, or have physical limitations that prevent you from easily moving from the floor to standing poses for a full hour. Seated floor yoga, is a gentle style of yoga that incorporates the breathing and mind-body benefits of a traditional class.
This is a slow, gentle and restorative yoga practice of floor stretches and seated poses perfect for beginners, those recuperating from illness or those who just want to take it easy. Use this yoga sequence on days when you need some stress relief. If you choose to practice with props, use a yoga block and belt.
*Before you begin any new physical activity, you should consult with your healthcare provider. These poses are suitable for most people, including seniors and people living with chronic pain.
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