Yoga Poses for Seniors

For many seniors, high-intensity exercise isn’t in the cards anymore. Things like running, jump rope, and stair-climbing are hard on the joints and hard on stamina. Low-impact exercise is a safer alternative for seniors, as it carries less of a risk of injury and strain. For those who want to keep moving without worrying about hurting themselves, yoga poses for seniors are the solution.

The benefits of yoga for older adults include improved balance, joint health, bone and muscle mass, and even mental wellness. Those who practice yoga regularly (sometimes called “yogis”) see improvement in their focus, concentration, stress, and emotional well-being.

Before you begin your yoga journey with these yoga poses for seniors, you should evaluate your physical health and limitations. Yoga can be practiced by anyone at any skill level, but certain poses should be avoided by older adults with certain medical conditions. If you’re concerned about some poses, don’t do them. Ask your primary physician if these poses would be safe for you to practice, and move forward based on their advice.

If you’re considering starting a yoga journey and don’t know where to start, start simple. Below are some yoga poses for seniors, perfect for those who are new to the practice.

Mountain pose

yoga is great for seniors

Mountain pose might look like standing still, but it’s so much more than that. When done properly, this pose stretches and strengthens the feet, ankle, and legs, and improves posture. Start by standing tall with your feet flush together and ground through your toes and heels. Draw in your abdominals, roll your shoulders, and relax them down.

Make it more difficult by slowly lifting your heels off the ground and raising your arms to the ceiling at the same time. Make it easier by holding onto the back of a chair or wall for support.

Tree pose

tree pose with help with seniors' balance

Tree pose promotes leg strength, abdominal strength, hip mobility, and balance. Start in mountain pose, then ground one foot. Lift the other foot and guide it to the opposite inner thigh or calf. Open your knee to the side. Bring your hands to a prayer position for balance. Switch sides and repeat.

Make it more difficult by lifting your foot high into the inner thigh and lifting your arms above your head at the same time. Make it easier by placing your foot on your lower calf, or even on the ground.

Knee to chest

Knee to chest will stretch out your hips

This is another great pose to benefit your core, legs, and hips. Once again, start in mountain pose. Lift your knee to your hip and wrap your hands around it. Engage your abdominal muscles to help with balance. Switch sides and repeat.

Make it more difficult by bringing your knee up and inward. Make it easier by not lifting your knee quite as high.

Downward-facing dog

Downward dog is a perfect full-body pose for seniors

This position engages every part of your body— upper body, core, and legs. Start on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips until you are in a sort of triangle shape. You can try downward dog on your forearms (also called dolphin) if your wrists give you problems.

Make it more difficult by attempting to flatten your feet. Make it easier by bending your knees as much as you need to.

Cobbler’s/butterfly poseCobbler's pose for seniors

Cobbler’s (or butterfly) pose helps seniors open their hips and allows them to massage their feet. Sit tall on the ground and bring the soles of your feet together. Open your knees as far as they’ll go (without hurting yourself!) and hold it. Take the time to massage your feet here.

Make it more difficult by leaning forward without rounding your lower back. Make it easier by doing this pose up against a wall.

Sphynx Pose

Avoid Forward Head Syndrome with yoga for seniors

This heart-opener promotes upper back strength and can even help prevent forward head syndrome. Lie down on your stomach and place your forearms on the mat with your elbows under your shoulders. Press into the arms, draw your shoulders together, and slowly lift your chest and abdominals.

Make this pose more difficult by lifting your thighs off the ground. Make it easier by using a cushion under the chest for added support and not lifting quite as high.

Chair yoga

Chair yoga is great for seniors who struggle with balance, or perhaps those with limited mobility. Common poses like warrior, cat-cow, and spinal twists can all be completed while seated. Even some of the above poses can be done in a chair, including:

  • Mountain: Sit forward on your chair and straighten your back. Engage your core, relax your shoulders, and slowly raise and lower your shoulders.
  • Knee to chest: Sit straight in a chair and slowly lift your leg.

Healthy Living in the comfort of your home

One of the best parts about yoga is its accessibility. There are group classes available to seniors, as well as free, online classes. There are a few suggested tools, but that’s just it—the tools are suggested. To practice yoga, all you need is yourself. Remember: While yoga may at times be challenging, it should never be painful.

Our in-home caregivers can help you get to your yoga class by organizing for a taxi or assisting with public transportation. If you decide to practice in your home, we can help facilitate healthy living by assisting with meal preparation of well-rounded meals. Whatever your needs are—whether it’s personal care, housekeeping, or companionship— we can assist.

Learn more about how home care can benefit you by calling 773-274-9262.

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