Keeping fit and healthy gets more difficult when we get older. Our muscles don’t work the same way as they used to and exercising becomes more difficult – and yoga is no exception to this.
The thing is, it’s important that when we reach senior age, we try to keep exercising – such as yoga – but understand what our limitations are, so we can still keep fit and healthy but not overexert ourselves and cause injury.
As a result, we must ask what yoga poses we should avoid as seniors. In reality, the list of this would be very long as there are many yoga poses which may be unsuitable for seniors. So, it’s best that we cover the ones seniors should perform.
We’re going to unpack all of this and more in this handy guide. So, if you’re wondering what is best for seniors when it comes to yoga – read on for more.
Yoga As A Senior – What To Avoid
Regardless if you’re a senior or not, you must understand your own physical limitations before performing yoga. Generally speaking, seniors need more physical consideration than younger people, but this isn’t always the case.
Our guide will speak in a very generalized sense, but it’s important that you understand your own physical health and limitations, so always consult with a doctor before you plan to do anything physical.
Nonetheless, there are a few poses as a senior you should avoid. Typically, seniors should avoid any poses that involve forward bends, or poses that place your head underneath the heart.
This is because these poses result in an increase of blood pressure and a change in blood flow, which can be detrimental for people with conditions such as glaucoma, vertigo and retinal conditions.
Therefore, you will want to avoid poses such as:
- Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Standing Forward Bend)
- Padangusthasana (Hand to Big Toe Posture)
- Shashankasana (Hare Posture & Balasana “Child’s Posture”)
- Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Posture)
- Marichyasana A and B
- Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Yoga As A Senior – What To Do
While there are some things that seniors may wish to avoid for health reasons, there are plenty of poses that seniors can still perform, and it will largely depend on the type of yoga session you are doing. Let’s examine them a little better.
While hatha is not technically a specific style of yoga because it’s a generic term, normally hatha classes involve a gentle form of yoga which typically has classes which seniors can very happily take part in at their own pace.
Hatha classes are normally slow paced and involve a series of sitting and standing poses, with a focus on breathing exercises and stretching, rather than trying to increase your heart rate or performing a challenging pose.
This is why hatha is generally considered to be the best form of yoga for seniors, and a perfect choice for beginners to the art.
This form of yoga often uses props or blocks like incline boards to encourage proper form and alignment. It’s highly precise and methodical, but it’s one of the best forms of yoga for seniors – especially if they have a form of arthritis or other chronic conditions.
Restorative yoga is a very slow form of the art and its primary function is to release any tension in the muscles and the body overall but without the need for stretching. Sometimes props are used, but they do not need to be.
This is a very helpful form of yoga for many people, but seniors will enjoy this as it usually offers a lot of relaxation and comfort.
Much like the previous form of yoga, yin is a very slow and focused form of yoga that has no active stretches involved – rather the focus is on deep connective tissues. If seniors perform yin on a regular basis, they may find their flexibility and overall health improve.
This is another generic term, but it involves continuous breathing techniques and moving from one flow to another. Sometimes, this can be a quick form of yoga in terms of pacing – but many seniors can happily perform vinyasa and have no problems.
This form of yoga is only recommended for seniors who are in good health and have no pre-existing conditions. It can often be fast paced and involves increasing the heart rate. Certainly not one for beginners, but some experienced seniors benefit from this yoga.
Considerations For Seniors In Yoga Classes
If you are a yoga instructor or you are a senior considering taking up yoga for the first time, there are a number of considerations you should think about. Let’s look at some of those below.
Before doing any form of yoga, you need to evaluate your own abilities and if you have any restrictions. If you do, it’s always a good idea to bring these up before the class because the instructor may be able to make adjustments which can help you.
This may be things like adjusting or modifying a pose, or simply sitting out for a moment until the class has moved on.
Communication Is Key
As an instructor, you should always ask the members of your class if they are doing okay – and when it comes to senior students, this is very important. Many seniors do not feel comfortable informing others if they are struggling with things, so this is very helpful.
The same goes for senior students – if you are finding the class difficult or you, at any time, feel some discomfort – you need to make the instructor know about this. Never feel as though you can’t speak up, it’s okay.
Many people, including yoga instructors, wrongly assume that light yoga or beginner yoga, is appropriate for seniors. The fact of the matter is that there may be extra changes or modifications that you need to make for some of your students.
Similarly, as a senior, you should not enter a class because it says the class is light. Always try to ask the instructor prior to starting the class what may be involved and if you think you may need to have a modification or other consideration.
Above all, ensure you are working at your own pace. Do not feel as though you have to copy someone else. We are all different and some of us need extra time or resources to complete certain tasks – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
When all is said and done, we want to ensure that we are all completing a safe yoga class and getting the most out of it. Whilst we’re on this subject, always be sure that you consult with your doctor before you enter a yoga class, and find out if you may need modifications.
The Bottom Line
And that’s really all you need to know about yoga for seniors. While the list to avoid is not exhaustive, it’s critical that you know your own abilities and work at your own pace.
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