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Stretch Safely with Adaptive Yoga for Seniors

By Lisa M. Davila, B.S.N., M.S.
October 7, 2021
yoga class

Yoga is an ancient form of meditative movement rooted in Indian philosophy. It began as a strictly spiritual practice, but it has developed into a popular way of promoting physical and mental well-being.

As practiced in the U.S., yoga involves physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dyana). The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) estimates that about 14% of U.S. adults practice some form of yoga—up from about 9% in 2012.

Improve physical and mental health with adaptive yoga

Studies on the correlation between yoga and overall health show that adaptive yoga poses can help improve daily functioning and reduce chronic low back pain, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Results also demonstrate that yoga may also reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Earlier this year, research showed that practicing yoga may help people with mild cognitive impairment improve their memory.

Try these simple, safe poses to start enjoying the benefits of yoga

There are many different styles of yoga, but the type best suited for many older adults is called modified or adaptive yoga. Instructors trained in adaptive yoga adjust traditional poses to make them safer.

According to NCCIH, adaptive yoga is generally considered safe as long as it is practiced properly under the guidance of a well-trained instructor; however, if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, or sciatica, certain poses should be modified or avoided altogether. Ask your doctor if adaptive yoga is safe for you.

Modified yoga poses:

Seated breathing
  1. Sit tall at the edge of a chair with your hands on your waist.
  2. Take a deep breath through your nose while expanding the breath through your sides and abdomen.
  3. Exhale slowly through your mouth by gently blowing.
  4. Repeat for 3 to 5 breaths.
Cow-cat pose

If you have arthritis in your spine or neck, keep your neck straight during this exercise.

  1. Sit tall with your palms on your knees.
  2. Inhale and slowly drop your head back, pulling your chest up and forward.
  3. Exhale and round your back while pulling your belly toward your spine.
  4. Gently tuck your chin in toward your chest and expand the area between your shoulder blades.
  5. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Seated sun salutations

If you have shoulder discomfort, lift your arms to shoulder level only for this exercise.

  1. Sit tall and lift your arms overhead, palms facing each other but not touching.
  2. Inhale while looking up at the ceiling.
  3. Exhale while allowing your arms to float down to your sides.
  4. Repeat for 3 to 5 breaths.
High altar side leans
  1. Sit tall.
  2. Lift your arms and interlace fingers.
  3. Turn your palms toward the ceiling and straighten your arms above your head. (If you have sore wrists, gently grasp one hand with the other.)
  4. Lean to the left side.
  5. Hold for 2 to 3 breaths.
  6. Repeat, leaning to the right side.
Side twist
  1. Sit tall.
  2. Place your left hand on the seat behind you and your right hand on the outside of your left knee.
  3. Inhale. Then, as you exhale, gently turn your shoulders to the left. To deepen the stretch, gently press your left hand against your right knee.
  4. Hold the twist for 2 to 3 complete breaths.
  5. Repeat, rotating to the right.

Enjoy the fitness amenities that Erickson Senior Living communities have to offer

Erickson Senior Living communities prioritize the health and well-being of all of its residents above anything else. To that end, our communities offer a variety of fitness amenities such as gyms, classes, and yes, yoga! Explore more about how you can live actively at the community of your choice. 

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