What are the Different Types of Yoga for the Elderly?

A.E. Freeman

There are several types of yoga for the elderly. A number of poses, or asanas, are suitable for seniors, such as the plank pose or the cat and cow. Other types of yoga for the elderly include styles that rely on the use of props, such as Iyengar yoga and chair yoga. Elderly people who practice yoga may find that they sleep better at night, feel better, and may see some improvement in chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Yoga for the elderly may help to promote good sleep.
Yoga for the elderly may help to promote good sleep.

Types of yoga for the elderly includes Iyengar, which was started by B.K.S. Iyengar. The practitioner uses props such as a block, a blanket or a belt to help her get into a pose properly. Props compensate for any lack of strength or flexibility a practitioner may have and help her to align her body so that she can get the most out of an asana. According to Iyengar, using props is not a way of cheating or taking the easy way out, but a necessity because everyone has a different body.

The elderly may not be able to do yoga on a floor mat, but may be able to modify the poses to a chair style yoga.
The elderly may not be able to do yoga on a floor mat, but may be able to modify the poses to a chair style yoga.

For example, an elderly yoga practitioner may place a yoga block under her lower back for support during a goddess pose or a similar pose. She may sit up on a blanket to help her bend further forward during a seated forward bend. In some cases, a practitioner may gain enough flexibility after using the prop that she no longer needs it after a time.

Another type of yoga for the elderly is chair yoga. When people practice chair yoga, they perform the poses on a chair instead of the traditional mat. Chair yoga allows seniors to perform modified versions of traditional poses, such as the forward bend, in a way that is less strenuous and better suited to their muscle strength and flexibility. Sitting on a chair may be less intimidating for some elderly people than lying on the floor on a mat.

Elderly yogis may be able to perform a few poses without the help of props. Yoga for the elderly classes may include the plank pose, in which the practitioner supports herself on her forearms and toes, her back held in a line parallel to the floor. Some yogis may support themselves on their knees to make the pose a bit easier.

Elderly people who practice yoga may see an improvement in chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Elderly people who practice yoga may see an improvement in chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

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