If you’re looking for the best yoga stretching exercises tips for seniors, we’ve got you covered!
Doing yoga is an amazing low-impact way to increase flexibility and relax tight muscles, but it takes some getting used to.
Below, we’re sharing some of the easiest yoga poses for seniors just getting started, plus some tips for success.
Let’s dive in (after you’ve talked to your doctor or physical therapist, of course)!
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Yoga Stretching Exercises Tips For Seniors
Aging can take a toll on the body from tight muscles to joint aches and pain leaving you prone to falls and other kinds of injures.
Flexibility is key to good health and it’s especially important for seniors. And what better way to achieve flexibility than through stretching?
Flexibility especially in the joints decreases gradually as you get older. This decrease is so gradual that you may not even notice it happening.
And then one day it happens; you stretch to reach for something, and the pain sets in!
The good news is that it’s never too late to get your groove on with these easy and manageable stretching excises for seniors.
Top 8 Beginner Yoga Stretching Exercises For Seniors
Let’s start with some basic beginner stretches that you can try. We’ve included some videos with additional tips for success or alternate stretches that target the same muscles.
1.The Hippie Stretch
Your hips as you get older lose their flexibility which affects balance. Incorporating senior back stretches, like the hippie stretch, helps balance the hips while stretching your lower back and hamstrings.
How to do it
Start by putting your feet together so that they are flat on the ground. Bend forward slowly at the waist and then walk the hands down to the legs.
Go as low as you can to a point where it still feels comfortable for you.
With your feet still flat on the ground, bend the knees alternately (the other legs should remain straight) and then lower your head such that it dangles down. The goal is to release all the tension you have built up.
Make sure you stretch every side for at least 15 seconds.
2. The Arm Opener
This is a simple stretch that stretches the arms, shoulders, and chest.
To get ready, stand apart with your feet comfortably flat on the floor. Interlace your hands behind the tailbone with your knuckles facing down.
Dive into my expert guide on ‘Asanas Good for Back Pain‘ to find relief and strengthen your spine through targeted yoga practices!
How to do it
Looking straight ahead, stretch the arms up and as far away as you can from the tailbone. Reach up to the point where you feel comfortable and then take 5 deep breaths.
Do at least three sets of this.
3. The Back Stretch
Mobility is a concern among most seniors. The back stretch is a great exercise for spine mobility. Besides, it also helps with bad posture, especially on the shoulders.
The stretch is a little dynamic which should improve blood flow.
How to do it
Stand tall with the hands on the hips and then gently arch yourself backward so you’re facing up towards the ceiling and hold that position for at least 3 seconds before returning to the standing position.
Repeat the stretch 10 times.
4. The Simple Standing Quad Stretch
This is a great stretching routine because it stretches and lengthens the quad muscle located in front of the thigh.
This is a vital area to stretch because, over time, it tightens and shortens from hunching forward or sitting. This could be the reason why your body posture keeps worsening or you are in constant pain.
How to do it
Begin in a standing position, holding onto a countertop or a chair with one hand. Bend the right knee slowly and grab your foot. You should feel a slight stretch at the thigh region.
Hold on to that position for about 30 seconds and then do the same with the other foot.
TIP: If you can’t comfortably reach your foot, add a yoga band or strap to your stretching routine. A long towel also works.
5. Ankle Stretches
Weak and stiff ankles are the main culprits when your balance starts failing. Great flexibility at the ankles is the best way of preventing unwarranted stumbles and falls which could lead to more advanced health issues in the future.
How to do it
Sitting comfortably, stretch the right leg in front ensuring that the other leg remains grounded on the ground.
Start rotating the right ankle (20 clockwise rotations and 20 anti-clockwise ones). Repeat with the other leg.
6. The Lower Back and Hamstring Stretch
This is a gentle stretch that is meant to target the lower back and the hamstrings which are prone to tightening over time due to poor posture and prolonged sitting.
How to do it
Begin by lying flat on the floor or bed and then bend the right knee slowly towards the chest. Your shoulders should be flat on the floor. Reach the arms around the right knee and try pulling it towards you.
If you are doing it right, you should feel a little stretch on your glutes, the lower back, and the hamstring. Hold that position for half a minute and then repeat with the other leg.
7. Seated Yoga Hip Stretch
As your grow older, your hips are bound to get tight. When they become too tight, it can make it impossible to do simple things like moving around or even getting out of a tub.
The seated hip stretch is gentle and helps increase your hip flexibility which ends up improving your movement.
How to do it
Start by finding a chair to sit on. While in that position, cross your leg (start with the right) over the left allowing the ankle to rest on the left knee.
At this point, you should feel your hip stretching. For a deeper stretch, try pressing down on both the right leg as well as the knee.
Hold that position 30 seconds and then repeat with the left leg.
8. The Cat-Cow Pose
This is one of the most dynamic of yoga stretches that is meant to increase flexibility and improve the mobility of the spine.
How to do it
Begin on an ‘all-fours’ posture ensuring that the hands sit directly beneath the shoulders and the knees beneath the hips.
Feel free to add padding on the knees, which could be a pillow or towels – whatever makes you comfortable. In that position, inhale deeply, arching the spine and then lifting the chest and the head so that they are facing upwards.
Hold the breath for a few minutes. Next, exhale as you pull the stomach and drop your head plus the neck down. Repeat this stretch as much as you can but ensure that you do at least 10 reps.
Now that we’ve got you set up with a great routine that works on every muscle group, let’s go over some frequently asked questions and tips for success.
How long should seniors hold a stretch?
While there’s no perfect answer (it depends on your overall mobility and flexibility), a 2001 study found that 60 seconds was the “sweet spot” for improving range of motion (ROM).
That said, if you can only hold it for 30 seconds (or even just 15), don’t give up. Holding the pose for a short time is better than not stretching at all.
Is yoga good 70-year-old woman?
As long as your doctor clears it first, yes, yoga is great for a 70-year-old woman (or man).
However, remember to start off slow and easy. Don’t just jump into complex poses if you’ve never tried yoga before.
How often should seniors do yoga?
Again, this is something only your physical therapist or doctor can definitively answer. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that seniors get 150 minutes of physical activity each week, if possible.
If physical limitations prevent that, then aim for two days a week of muscle-strengthening exercises, like yoga. Once your body adapts, try to increase the number of days.
Again, though, some exercise is better than none. So, if you feel overwhelmed by the idea of doing yoga even twice a week, start with one day and go from there.
Is yoga alone enough exercise?
Ideally, the CDC recommends engaging in some type of aerobic exercise for 150 minutes a week even for seniors. So, no, yoga isn’t “enough” to meet that goal.
However (and this is a big however), if yoga is the only comfortable routine for you right now, don’t focus on whether it’s “enough.” Just focus on building your flexibility.
Then you can add in more strenuous activities later.
Tips for Success
Before we close, I just want to quickly share a few additional yoga stretching exercises tips for seniors that didn’t really fit into any of the sections above.
- Dress for success! Wear clothes that are loose enough to stretch in, but not so loose that they pose a tripping hazard.
- Don’t forget to breathe! Yoga is as much about breathing as it is about stretching.
- Adapt poses to fit your needs. If you can’t do a standing pose without help, use a chair or try doing it seated.
- Never stretch to the point of pain. If it hurts, stop.
- If you’re hiring an instructor, make sure they have experience teaching yoga to seniors.
- If you’re taking a class, audit it first (watch a session without participating) to make sure it fits your needs.
- NEVER start a new workout without talking to your doctor (I can’t say this enough).
Let’s face it; you are no longer as flexible as you use to be.
Some daily tasks that you never had trouble with are getting difficult to accomplish including simple things like getting off the floor.
It’s the downside of getting old and it’s normal. However, you don’t have to let that define you. There is still a chance that you can regain your flexibility and mobility.
The best and proven way to do that is by incorporating simple stretching exercises into your daily routine.
Start slow with stretches that you feel comfortable with and then increase the number of times you stretch per day.
Before you know it, the muscle tightness and joint aches that you’ve been experiencing will soon be a thing of the past.