Yoga For Seniors

by | Feb 10, 2022 | Yoga Therapy

In Indian Philosophy, there are four stages of life: Brahmacharya, or studentship; Grahastya, or house holdership; Vanaprasta – retirement; and Sannyasin, or final renunciation. Most of the yoga instructors and yoga practices that are popular in the West tend to tailor themselves to the first two stages of life. This is rooted in the misunderstanding that yoga is not a lifelong practice and not meant for every body. For many people who are over the age of sixty and consider themselves seniors, these popular styles of classes can be intimidating and not necessarily tailored for their body’s needs.  

Here is a gentle yoga class sequence that is adapted to the possible needs of seniors or anyone over sixty.  In the following self-care practice, the focus is on joint mobility and balance to bring mental clarity and energy to your day!

What yoga props you will need:

Chair (preferably one without wheels)

Yoga Mat (to help keep the chair from sliding)

2 Blocks (or sturdy books)

Bolster (or pillow)

Blanket (or towel)

  1. Place your chair on the yoga mat.  Sit toward the front half of the chair, sit bones firmly planted, ankles directly over the knees. If the entire sole of your foot does not touch the floor, place blocks underneath your feet.  Rest your hands on your thighs, and sit up comfortably.  Notice your natural rhythm of the breath.  Allow your breath to deepen comfortably.
  2. Arm movements in chair to mobilize ribcage and deepen the breath
    1. On an inhalation, raise the right arm forward and up overhead as high and far back as comfortable. Exhale your right arm back to your thigh. Repeat on the same side four times. 
    2. Repeat on the left side four times.
    3. On an inhalation, raise both arms forward and up overhead, exhale to bring both arms back to starting position.
    4. Repeat this four times. 
  3. Seated Bitilasana Marjaryasana – Seated Cat/Cow (6x)
    1. As you inhale, slide your hands up your legs, drawing your shoulders back and down, and squeeze the shoulder blades towards each other. 
    2. On your exhale, slide your hands down the legs toward your knees, and gently round your upper spine, spreading the shoulder blades apart.
    3. Repeat this movement with your breath six times, maybe closing your eyes if that feels safe.
  4. Seated twist with arm movements
    1. As you inhale, raise your arms out to the side and about halfway up. 
    2. On your exhale, simultaneously turn your shoulders to the right, look to the right and lower your right arm towards the back of the chair as you bring your left hand to your right shoulder.
    3. Inhale, turn back to center raising both arms out to the side and halfway up.
    4. Exhale, simultaneously turn your shoulders to the left, look to the left and lower your left arm toward the back of the chair as you bring your right hand to your left shoulder.
    5. Repeat four rounds side to side.
  5. Seated Chakravakasana – Seated Sunbird pose (4x)
    1. Place hands on upper thighs, inhale, press the rib cage slightly forward as you draw the shoulder blades down the back. Find length through the crown of the head.
    2. On an exhale, fold forward over your legs as you run your hand down your legs and to your shin bones or ankles.
    3. On an inhale, lift your chest and belly away from the legs, sliding the hands up the legs to return to the starting position.
    4. Repeat four times.
  6. Tadasana – Mountain pose (6 breaths)
    1. Come to a standing position behind your chair. 
    2. Place your feet a comfortable distance apart and focus on distributing your weight evenly through both feet. 
    3. Take six full rounds of breath.
  7. Natarajasana variation with chair support – Dancer’s pose variation with chair support (4x)
    1. Stand behind your chair, back of the chair facing you. Place your right hand on the back of the chair.
    2. Inhale, lift your left arm forward and up over your head as you slide your right leg back, keeping your toes or the ball of your foot on the floor for support. 
    3. Exhale stay in the position and focus on the right toes or ball of the foot connected to the floor. 
    4. Inhale, expand your chest and actively reach through your left fingers.
    5. Exhale, bring your left arm back down, and slide your right foot back parallel to the left. 
    6. Repeat four times. 
    7. Repeat on the opposite side.
  8. Adho Mukha variation with chair – Downward Facing dog pose variation with chair
    1. Staying behind the chair, place both hands on the back of the chair
    2. Step back from the chair, keeping hands on the back of the chair, and stretch forward so that your arms can stretch straight and your torso is somewhat parallel to the floor. 
    3. Stay and breathe in the position for four to six breaths.
  9. Seated Chakravakasana – Seated Sunbird pose (4x)
    1. Place your hands on upper thighs, inhale, press the rib cage slightly forward as you draw the shoulder blades down the back. Find length through the crown of the head.
    2. On an exhale, fold forward over your legs as you run your hand down your legs and to your shin bones or ankles.
    3. On an inhale, lift your chest and belly away from the legs, sliding the hands up the legs to return to the starting position. Repeat four times.
    4. Stay in the forward position for four to six breaths.
  10. Savasana
    1. Move the chair off the mat and to the side.
    2. Gently make your way to the floor.
    3. Place a bolster under your knees and lay down on your mat.
    4. Relax and breathe…

You can practice this gentle yoga sequence at any time of day. Be sure to listen to your body and take only what you need. Please enjoy your mindful breath-to-movement. 

If you prefer a more energetic class, you may gain some insights on how to sequence a vinyasa yoga class.  

Happy practicing!

Gentle Yoga Sequence 

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