Seniors pose a special challenge for yoga practice, because of their very mix of abilities and condition-Some 80-year-olds are still running marathons, and some 70-year-olds are unable to get up out of a chair. With a few exceptions, older adults have less joint range of motion, less strength and poorer balance than younger counterparts. They tend to have more limiting musculoskeletal conditions, such as osteoarthritis and low back conditions, that may put them at higher risk of musculoskeletal side effects from yoga.
As our age increases, the efficiency of our bodies and immune system seems to deteriorate, bringing on the possibility of various diseases. Regular practice of yoga techniques, such as asanas, pranayama and meditation can help to avoid these conditions, remove the misery, and lead to a happier and more fulfilling life.
Before starting a yoga session warm-up with brisk walking and joint movements. Then begin with the following yoga asanas
1. Dandasana (Staff Pose)
- Sit with your spine erect and your knees bent. Position the blocks on their broad sides on either side of your hips. Then place your palms on the blocks. Sit on your buttock bones.
- Straighten each leg, one at a time, and join the inner sides of your legs and feet. Lengthen the calf muscles, and stretch your knees and toes. Keep your knees straight. Press your palms down on the blocks and stretch your elbows and arms.
- Lift your abdomen, freeing the diaphragm of tension. Hold the pose for 1 minute. Beginners may find it easier to separate their feet slightly, and should hold the pose for just 30 seconds.
2. Trikonasana (lateral bending pose)
- Stand straight, feet apart and arms on the sides, palms facing and touching the thighs.
- While inhaling, raise your right arm slowly up to shoulder level, palm facing down with the elbow straight.
- Now turn the palm upwards and raise the hand so that it is in a straight line, touching the ear.
- While exhaling, bend as far as possible to the left. This is the final position of Trikonasana.
- Maintain it for a few seconds and return to normal position gradually.
- The same is to be done on the other side. This completes the process. The lateral stretch should be felt.
3. Katichakrasana (Standing Spinal Twist)
- Stand up straight with your feet together.
- As you breathe in, stretch your hands to the front, palms facing each other, parallel to the ground.
- Exhale and gently twist from the waist to the right and look back over the right shoulder.
- Keep the distance between your palms constant.
- Breathing in, come back to the center.
- Breathing out, turn to your left and repeat the yoga posture on your left side.
- Breathing in, come back to the center.
- Repeat this yoga pose a few times on both sides and then breathing out, bring your hands down.
4. Badhakonasana (Butterfly Pose)
- Sit with your spine erect and legs spread straight out.
- Now bend your knees and bring your feet towards the pelvis. The soles of your feet should touch each other.
- Grab your feet tightly with your hands. You may place the hands underneath the feet for support.
- Make an effort to bring the heels as close to the genitals as possible.
- Take a deep breath in. Breathing out, press the thighs and knees downward towards the floor. Make a gentle effort to keep pressing them downward.
- Now start flapping both the legs up and down like the wings of a butterfly. Start slow and gradually increase the speed. Keep breathing normally throughout.
- Slow down and then stop. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, bend forward, keeping the chin up and spine erect.
- Press your elbows on the thighs or on the knees, pushing the knees and thighs closer to the floor.
- Feel the stretch in the inner thighs and take long, deep breaths, relaxing the muscles more and more.
- Take a deep breath in and bring the torso up.
- As you exhale, gently release the posture. Straighten the legs out in front of you and relax.
5. Marjariasana (Cat Stretch)
- Come onto your fours. Form a table such that your back forms the table top and your hands and feet form the legs of the table.
- Keep your arms perpendicular to the floor, with the hands directly under the shoulders and flat on the ground; your knees are hip-width apart. Look straight ahead.
- As you inhale, raise your chin and tilt your head back, push your navel downwards and raise your tailbone. Compress your buttocks. Do you feel a slight tingle here?
- Hold the Cat pose and take long, deep breaths.
- Hold this pose for a few seconds before you return to the initial table-like stage.
- Continue five or six rounds before you come out of this yoga posture.
6. Shishuasana (Child pose)
- Sit on your heels. Keeping your hips on the heels, bend forward, and lower your forehead to the floor.
- Keep the arms alongside your body with hands on the floor, palms facing up. (If this is not comfortable, you can place one fist on top of another and rest your forehead on them.)
- Gently press your chest on the thighs. Hold.
- Slowly come up to sit on the heels, uncurling vertebra by vertebra and relax.
7. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Hug the elbows back into your body.
Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly into the floor.
- On an inhalation, begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor, going only to the height at which you can maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don’t harden the buttocks.
- Firm the shoulder blades against the back, puffing the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine.
- Hold the pose anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation.
8. Shalabhasana (Locust pose)
- Lie on the stomach with the head turned to one side and the arms alongside the body with palms facing upward.
- Turn the head and place your chin on the floor. Slide your hands under your thighs, with the palms pressed gently against the top of your thighs.
- Inhale slowly and then raise the head, chest, and legs off the floor as high as possible. Tilt your head as far back as possible. Keep your feet, knees, and thighs pressed together.
- Starting at the top of the head and working your way down to the feet, bring your attention to each part of your body, consciously relaxing it before proceeding on to the next.
- Remain in the posture while holding the breath. You can support your legs by pressing the hands upward against your thighs.
- Hold the posture for as long as you can hold the inhaled breath then slowly return the legs, chest, and head to the floor while exhaling.
- Remove your hands from under your thighs and place the arms alongside your body. Turn your head to the side and rest.
- Hold this posture for as long as you can hold the inhaled breath. Repeat the shalabha-asana three times.
9. Varied Pawanamuktasana (One-legged Wind Releasing Pose)
One-legged Wind Releasing pose is a good, gentle stretch for the mid- to low back and hips because it stretches all of the muscles in those areas, which helps resolve low back pain.
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
- Hug your right thigh to your chest, using a strap or belt to assist you, if necessary.
- Straighten your left leg along the floor, keeping your foot flexed.
- Keep your pelvis and right buttock on the floor (or, if you’re unable, keep your left leg slightly bent).
- Breathe deeply until you feel the muscles relax, and then stay a few breaths longer.
- Repeat on the other side.
10. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
- Start on your hands and knees, with your knees directly below your hips and your hands a little in front of your shoulders.
- Exhale and push up onto your hands and feet, with your hips in the air. Your body will make a triangle with the floor with your legs straight, your knees not locked and your heels reaching toward the floor.
- Keep your palms flat, your fingers spread apart and your shoulders broad. Your head should be in line with your spine.
- Inhale and exhale in this pose for up to three minutes.
Besides these poses you can practice Yoga nidra for as age progresses, it becomes even more essential to help assimilate the effect of the asana practice into our system.
Performing yoga poses helps stretch muscles, ligaments and tendons, which removes lactic acid and alleviates stiffness and pain. As you practice yoga, you’ll also discover an improvement in your joints’ range of motion over time.