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New kind of yoga rises in popularity among seniors

January 28, 2013

Most seniors recognize that staying physically active will help them enjoy healthy aging, but sometimes that is easier said than done. Chronic health issues, arthritis and other conditions can make exercise difficult. A new kind of yoga is sweeping through a Colorado retirement community, offering a gentle alternative to more taxing activities, reports local NBC affiliate KOAA.

This variation on the practice, known as chair yoga, is the brainchild of recreational therapist Diane Lindberg. Though it might be less intense than traditional yoga, the activity still works many of the same muscle groups, albeit in a slower, more deliberate pace. For seniors who have mobility issues, it offers considerable benefits. 

"I use those muscles whereas before I wasn't able to use them," John Leehey, who has been going to classes for six months, told the news channel. "Certain activities, twisting the body around, learning to breathe and using the inhaling-exhaling system of yoga."

While it remains to be seen if chair yoga will catch on at retirement communities across the nation, Lindberg is certainly headed down the right track because yoga offers many substantial health benefits, especially for older adults. Study after study shows that adults who make yoga a part of a healthy lifestyle for seniors can improve their overall well-being.

Some of the most compelling research comes from a study led by scientists from Oregon Health and Science University. Over the course of the trial, researchers found that after just six months of yoga, participants between the ages of 65 and 85 were able to stand on one leg for a longer period of time and enjoyed greater flexibility, according to The New York Times.