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Beginning Yoga For Seniors: 10 Gentle Poses to Start Your Practice

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Senior couple, man and woman, are holding yoga mats, looking at each other, smiling, beginning yoga for seniors
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The article is verified by Elyce Neuhauser
Yoga Expert, E-RYT 500, Certified Meditation Coach

Try beginning yoga for seniors to improve your flexibility, balance, and mental health. Find 10 poses to start with in this blog post.

Table of Contents

Regular yoga practice is great for everyone as it improves overall mobility, flexibility, strength, balance, and even mental health. 

However, many older adults feel intimidated and unsure of how to begin. We’ve rounded up some basic yoga poses for seniors as an easy way to get started on the yoga mat or an alternative.

Is Yoga Safe for Seniors?

Many older adults turn to yoga to help them stay active and healthy as they age. But is it healthy to practice with medical conditions or physical limitations?

The good news is that, in general, yoga is safe for seniors 65 years and older. However, there are some precautions that should be taken before starting a yoga practice.

  • Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Your doctor can help you determine if yoga is safe for you and may suggest any movements to avoid.
  • Find a qualified yoga instructor, preferably someone with experience working with seniors. A professional instructor will modify poses to accommodate your physical limitations and provide guidance on how to practice safely and effectively.
  • Listen to your body and avoid any poses or movements that cause pain or discomfort. Seniors may need to modify postures or use props, such as blocks or straps, to make the practice more accessible. It’s also important to stay hydrated and take breaks as needed.

Older adults will not only reap the physical benefits of yoga but will find that the practice is also beneficial for their mental and emotional well-being. Yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and promote a sense of calm and relaxation.

Benefits of Beginning Yoga For Seniors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that older adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week, as well as two muscle-building activities and activities that improve balance. [1] Yoga can be used as part of a primary exercise program.

Some benefits that seniors can get from practicing yoga are:

  • Improved flexibility and range of motion [2] [3]
  • Improved respiratory function [4]
  • Reduced stress and anxiety [5]
  • Increased strength [6]
  • Enhanced balance and improved posture, leading to less strain on joints and muscles
  • Improved cognitive function and memory [7]
  • Better sleep and deeper relaxation [8]

10 Beginner Yoga Poses for Seniors to Improve Mobility, Strength, and Flexibility

A great way to stay active and improve overall health is to practice beginning yoga for seniors. Elderly beginners can easily find simple postures to enhance their good health, including the following yoga poses that are safe for seniors.

Hold each pose for 3-5 breaths.

Mountain Pose

a senior woman is practicing yoga, doing mountain pose_beginning yoga for seniors

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, and arms by your sides. Create a strong, steady foundation by spreading your toes and engaging your legs. Hug your belly in and draw your shoulder blades on the back. Keep your collarbones broad and your head lifted. This pose helps improve posture, balance, and overall strength.

Chair Pose

a woman is practicing yoga, doing chair pose_Beginning Yoga For Seniors

Start in Mountain Pose. Bend your knees, crease from the hips, and move your sit bones back as if you’re sitting in an imaginary chair. Raise your arms overhead and keep your spine long. This pose strengthens the legs and core while also improving balance.

Warrior II

a senior woman is practicing yoga, doing warrior 2 pose_beginning yoga for seniors

From Mountain Pose, step your left foot back to the end of the mat, turn the toes to 90 degrees, and bend your right knee forward, with right heel to left arch alignment. Extend your arms strongly out to the sides, palms facing down, and gaze over your right fingers. Tone your belly and keep your chest and head lifted. Repeat on the other side. This pose stretches and strengthens the hips, shoulders, and legs.

Triangle Pose

a senior woman is practicing yoga, doing triangle pose_Beginning Yoga For Seniors

From Warrior II, straighten your right leg without locking the knee. Hinge at your hips to the right and reach your right hand towards your right ankle or shin. Extend your left arm to the ceiling as you keep your side body long and lengthen the crown of the head towards the top of the mat. Return to Warrior II and repeat on the other side. 

This pose improves balance and not only stretches the obliques and thighs but strengthens them, too, along with the hips, core, and back. 

Tree Pose

a senior woman is practicing yoga, doing tree pose_Beginning Yoga For Seniors

Start in Mountain Pose. Shift your weight onto your left foot. Bend your right knee towards your chest, open the thigh to the side, and place the right foot on the inside of your left calf or thigh (avoid placing it directly on your knee). Bring your hands together in front of your heart. Keep your core toned and your chest lifted. Return to Mountain Pose and repeat on the other side. This pose improves balance and strengthens the legs and glutes.

Downward Facing Dog

a senior woman is practicing yoga, doing downward facing dog_Beginning Yoga For Seniors

Begin on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up and back into an upside-down V shape. Keep your stomach muscles engaged and your spine long, with knees slightly bent and heels lifted off the ground. This pose improves the posture and stretches the wrists, hamstrings, and calves while strengthening the arms and shoulders. 

Cat-Cow Stretch

a woman is practicing yoga, doing cat and cow pose_Beginning Yoga For Seniors

Begin on your hands and knees. Inhale and extend your spine, lifting your head and tailbone towards the ceiling (Cow Pose). Exhale and round your spine, tucking your chin to your chest, lifting your abdominals in and up, and lengthening your tailbone towards the ground (Cat Pose). Repeat for 3-5 breaths. This gentle yoga stretch for seniors helps improve spinal mobility and reduce back pain. 

Bridge Pose

a senior woman is practicing yoga, doing bridge pose, Beginning Yoga For Seniors

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Press your feet and arms into the ground and lift your hips towards the ceiling, keeping the lower back long and legs parallel. This pose strengthens the glutes and lower back while also stretching the chest and shoulders. 

Cobra Pose

a senior woman is practicing yoga, doing cobra pose_Beginning Yoga For Seniors

Lie on your belly with your hands framing your lower ribs. Engage your legs and core as you press gently into your hands and lift your chest off the ground. Keep your neck long and elbows close to your sides. This pose stretches the whole front body, strengthens the back muscles, and improves spinal mobility. 

Child’s Pose

a senior woman is practicing yoga, doing child's pose_Beginning Yoga For Seniors

Begin on your hands and knees. Lower your hips back towards your heels and relax your arms forward or by your sides. Rest your forehead on the ground and breathe deeply. This pose promotes relaxation and reduces stress.

Wrapping Up

Remember to listen to your body and go at your own pace when practicing beginning yoga for seniors. If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop and talk to your instructor or doctor. Practice regularly to improve mobility, strength, and flexibility and to reduce stress.

Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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