Yoga is one of the few physical exercises you can keep enjoying until old age. It’s gentle on your muscles and joints and has huge benefits for your body and mind.
Regular yoga keeps your joints flexible, builds your balance, improves your breathing and helps you stay fit. It is also a great way to relax, keep stress and anxiety at bay and fight insomnia.
Here are some of the best yoga poses for seniors. They are all super easy and perfect for complete beginners. The best part is that you can modify them in various ways to cater for health conditions like arthritis. They may also help you improve your balance when using your walking cane.
But before I get to them, some safety tips to keep in mind.
- Consult your doctor first if you have a major health condition or disability.
- Practice yoga on a soft mat to avoid any pressure or strain on your joints.
- Don’t push yourself. If a move feels painful, try another one.
- Practice these moves near a wall or something else you can use to support yourself in case you lose balance.
1. Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
In this pose, your hands should be raised over your head with palms held together and one leg raised and resting just above the knee of the other leg.
But you don’t have to start there. You can build up slowly until you get to a point where you can complete the full pose without a problem.
Start by raising your arms over your head, palms together and legs together as well. Slightly raise your right leg so that the heel is resting on the other leg and the toes are still touching the ground.
Hold for 20-30 seconds and then switch to the other leg.
Over the next several sessions, try to bring the raised leg higher. You can try raising it completely off the ground and resting it on the other leg.
Then position it a bit higher near the shin of the other leg until you eventually reach just above the knee.
2. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
Sit down on the mat (sit down at the edge of a folded blanket for added support) and stretch out your legs in front of you.
Cross your legs and place your hands on your knees.
Try to relax and lower your knees and thighs as close to the ground as you can. Take a few deep breaths and let your body and mind relax.
This is also a good position to practice meditation.
3. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
This is a common standing pose that is good for improving your balance, flexibility, bone density and muscle strength.
Position your left leg in front of you. Slowly bend it to a 90-degree angle such that the left knee is directly above the left ankle.
Your right leg will slant at an angle as you bend your left knee. But make sure it stays straight (like a diagonal line) and that your right foot is flat on the ground.
Raise your hands towards the sky and hold the position for 10-20 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
If your knees are problematic, you can bend the leading leg less.
4. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
This is a slightly modified version of Virabhadrasana I.
Start with your feet spread hip-width apart and your hands down on your side. This time you’ll step your left foot to the left rather than forward, around 3-4 feet from the other foot.
Turn your left foot such that it is at a 90-degree angle with the other foot. Then bend it to form another 90-degree angle at the knee. Your thigh should be parallel to the ground.
Your right leg should slant into a straight line. Raise your hands straight outwards to the sides at shoulder height.
Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds and then switch legs.
5. Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
This pose is an excellent way to improve flexibility around your hips and increase arm muscle strength. It also helps a lot with breathing and digestion.
Lie flat on the floor on your stomach. With your legs stretched as far back as possible and the top of your feet touching the floor, place your palms flat on the floor at waist level.
Pressing your palms into the floor, lift your torso and part of your legs upwards.
Press your hips downwards and puff out your ribs forwards. With your head looking straight forward, your back should form a gentle inwards curve.
Hold for 20-30 seconds.