Basic Yoga Poses
Learning basic yoga poses for senior citizens eases a new yogi into practice gradually. You can develop a simple sequence of moves for a great wake-up routine each day. These postures will increase circulation and flexibility.
Start each session by focusing your intention for practice and your flow of breath. Modifications for sitting in Lotus Pose, shown here, include using blocks or a folded blanket under the knees for better support.
To release tension from the shoulders and hips, try this modified Cat Pose. Breathe out as you extend your right arm and your left leg, inhale, then exhale back to an all-fours position. Inhale, then exhale and repeat the motion with the left arm and right leg.
You can roll up the mat under your wrists and knees for extra comfort.
Modified Pigeon Pose
Pigeon pose opens the chest to help relieve congestion, and stretches out the hips. With the right leg curved in front of you (use a pillow under the knee for extra support), lift your chest up as you extend the left leg back. The bend in the lower back should be small. Place your hands in front of you to extend the right leg back as you curve the left leg forward.
Twisting poses improve digestion and release toxins. The easiest modification of this pose is to simply put your legs in position, and turn your body only slightly to the side. Make sure to exhale into the twist, and turn from the hips up through the spine. The head should be the last thing to turn.
Lateral Sitting Twist
This twist can also be done by only moving the arms slightly. Rest your right hand on your left knee, for example, or try to place the forearm on the outside of the knee. Even the slightest twist will be beneficial.
Starting in Staff Pose - legs straight out in front of you, arms at your sides, back straight - exhale and extend your arms over your legs. Keep the back as straight as you can as you hinge from the hips.
You shouldn't feel any strain on the lower back, but you will feel a release of your hamstrings.
Slight backbends like this tone the legs and arms and increase flexibility. Knees are over the ankles, arms are at your sides. Tilt your pelvis forward slightly, then draw your belly in as you release back into the floor. Lift your thighs high on an exhale.
Hold for two breaths, then release slowly, letting your back return to the floor a little at a time.
Upward Facing Dog
This posture releases tension from the back and shoulders. The bend in the lower back should be small, but the chest should be lifted and the arms strong. Your belly comes off the floor slightly as you establish a foundation with your thighs.
Downward Facing Dog
Another basic yoga pose for senior citizens is Downward Facing Dog. The posture improves clarity and strengthens the entire body. The key is to make sure your head and chest drop between the upper arms. If you can't lower your heels to the floor at first, that's okay. As your flexibility increases, you'll find this easier to do.
Use a rolled towel under your wrists if you feel strain.
This standing posture provides many benefits, including lower body strength, which helps with everyday tasks.
Stand straight, arms and legs together. On an exhale, extend your left leg out 90 degrees, bending the knee to your point of comfort. Then extend the right leg out to the side fully. Raise your arms and reach through your fingertips.
Breathe, and repeat on the other side.
This balancing posture increases stability.
Stand straight, arms and legs together. On an inhale, raise your right foot up along the left calf as high as you feel comfortable, resting just below the knee. Your left leg should feel strong. If you like, bring your palms together at the chest. For more challenge, raise those closed palms above your head.
Slowly lower the right foot and repeat on the other side.
Do Yoga With a Friend!
There are many medical studies that reinforce the benefits of yoga, and even a few poses included in your daily exercise routine will be helpful.
Yoga classes are available in many locations, including senior centers, health clubs, and yoga studios. If you have a young family member who practices, ask them to show you some postures, too. It will be great quality time together.
For more information on basic yoga poses for senior citizens, read our articles about Chair Yoga and Ageless Yoga.