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all ages doing yoga

Yoga for Every Body

Kathy Simpson

Yoga has many benefits for every body at every age and, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be able twist yourself into a pretzel to do it. Just start where you are and work within your abilities. Yoga will gently yield its many benefits, from building flexibility and strength to calming your mind. It can even help to slow the aging process.

Here’s more on the rewards of yoga, especially as we age, and how to bring the practice of yoga into your life, no matter your age or physical condition.

Benefits of Yoga

Results from a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) show that yoga has these therapeutic effects when adopted as a regular practice:

  • Builds strength and flexibility
  • Improves balance and stability, which can help prevent future falls
  • Reduces high blood pressure and the risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Improves lung capacity and respiration
  • Relieves stress, anxiety and depression
  • Reduces aches and pains
  • Prevents arthritis and chronic pain
  • Improves sleep quality and relieves insomnia

The practice also encourages mindfulness, which expands your awareness of the world around you and your:

  • Body
  • Thoughts
  • Emotions

Getting Started With Yoga

Any class may be appropriate for you if you’re in good physical shape. But if you have mobility or balance issues, have physical restrictions or haven’t exercised in a while, look for a gentle class led by a teacher who can tailor their instructions to your age group and physical condition. Here are some options to check out.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is a broad term that refers to the physical practice of yoga. Many forms of yoga fall within the hatha category, including:

  • Ashtanga
  • Bikram
  • Vinyasa
  • Yin

As a beginner, the best place to start is with a gentle class that includes stretching and easy postures that are done while sitting, standing or lying down on a mat. Most hatha classes also include mindful breathing exercises known as pranayama, which help purify the blood and respiratory systems while calming your body and mind.

Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga is a less dynamic form of hatha yoga that involves holding a series of basic postures for several minutes. You’ll likely be supported by props, such as bolsters or blocks, to help minimize strain on muscles and joints, and to promote relaxation. For more active people, restorative yoga is an opportunity to release tension, soothe the nervous system and rest. For those new to yoga or with physical impairments, it is a gentle way to begin to allow your muscles to stretch and become more flexible.

Chair Yoga

Chair yoga adapts hatha postures so you can do them while seated in a chair or while standing using a chair for support. This makes yoga accessible to people who can’t stand or move easily due to a physical impairment. It’s also a great way for those who work in an office all day to take a break and ease pent-up tension in the body. Sequences include:

  • Stretching
  • Twisting
  • Bending while seated
  • Standing postures

These postures build flexibility and help ease stiffness in your lower back, neck, hips and shoulders. Chair yoga is increasingly offered in health clubs, senior centers and adult communities.

Water (or Aqua) Yoga

Practicing yoga in the water is a very different experience than practicing it on land. Your body feels weightless and moves more easily under water, but against greater resistance than air. All your weight is taken off your joints. The postures are gentle and low impact, and, because you’re not fighting gravity, you may be able to stretch further and hold the poses for longer. Many people find that practicing water yoga allows them to feel more relaxed, peaceful and refreshed than other types of yoga.

Laughter Yoga

To add a little levity to this discussion, how about trying laughter yoga?

According to Laughter Online University, this form of yoga promotes laughter as a form of physical exercise. It was created in India in the mid-1990s. It is based on the premise that voluntary laughter gives the same benefits as spontaneous laughter, like:

  • Strengthening your immune system
  • Bringing more oxygen to body and brain
  • Fostering positive feelings

The practice begins with yogic breathing exercises to calm the body and mind. Next your teacher will lead playful group exercises that get people laughing. Laughter groups have formed throughout the U.S.

How to Benefit From Yoga

Yoga for Every Body

To reap the benefits of yoga, begin gradually. The beauty of yoga is that it meets you where you are—both physically and psychologically. Find a suitable class with a certified teacher and follow these general guidelines:

  • Hold the poses for just a few seconds at first: The best way to gain strength and flexibility is to hold the pose for only a few seconds when you first begin. Gradually increase your holding time as your body loosens up and becomes more flexible.
  • If you experience pain or discomfort, back off from the pose: Pushing yourself too hard can lead to injury.
  • Beware of the desire to look good: Instead, focus internally on what your body is able to realistically do today and accept any limitations in your practice.
  • Adapt your practice as needed: If you have spinal disc problems, avoid twisting postures. If you have glaucoma, avoid inversions which can cause an increase of pressure in the eye. Let your teacher know if you have either condition and talk to your doctor before starting.
  • Take your time learning the language: When you first begin yoga, you may find the language to be a bit challenging: the sequences of poses, the uses of both English and Sanskrit names. Relax and focus on your teacher’s guidance.

When you practice yoga poses gently and within your ability, your body will gradually loosen up and become stronger. Your mind will become more clear and calm. But it won’t happen overnight. Maintain a regular practice, work within your ability and be persistent yet patient. Over time, yoga will deliver the health benefits you’re looking for.

We want to hear from you!

If you practice yoga, how has it impacted your life? If you haven’t tried your hand at the mat yet, let us know why in the comments.

48 Responses to "Yoga for Every Body"
    • Doris | January 25, 2022 at 8:18 pm

      I love Yoga ,it gives me a sense of Quietness and relaxation!! helps me to meditate and think of a Quiet place I would like to be. It is really good for the mine and body, I took some classes over the last five years!! Loved it!! I am going to start taking it again when I find a class!! I am 73 now.

    • Shirley C. De Camp | January 19, 2022 at 11:41 am

      I have done hatha yoga for years and I’m now 84 years old and in alot better shape and better attitude than many others my age.

    • LINDA MORROW` | January 18, 2022 at 3:00 pm

      I have practiced yoga for the past 20 years. I believe it has helped me so much. to me it is like having a body message. I have noticed balance is getting harder but that is even more reason to keep practicing. I have UTube on my TV and do yoga each morning. there is different difficulties so don’t think you can’t do it.

    • Anne Wythington | January 18, 2022 at 2:46 am

      Yoga is a religion and I am not interested at all

    • Ethelyn Bradshaw | January 18, 2022 at 12:45 am

      Lol! Where I live, it is only 10:41 pm! I guess where this email is received it is already my one year anniversary of being a yoga enthusiast!

    • Ethelyn Bradshaw | January 18, 2022 at 12:41 am

      I am 73 years old. I started doing yoga on January 18, 2021 (one year ago tomorrow!) and I love it. I can see and feel improvement in the strength and muscle mass in my arms and legs. I am much more balanced now than I was last year before I started doing my yoga routine, plus, I sleep more soundly at night and my mental capacities have improved as well. I’m getting older and better in many ways at the same time. I attribute my improvements to my new form of exercise: yoga! 😊

    • Harriet | January 17, 2022 at 10:48 pm

      I am ready to start learning Yoga. Please notify me about classes.
      Thank You.

      • Extra Mile Staff | January 18, 2022 at 9:03 am

        Harriet – The best way to find classes is to do a google search to see if they are being offered near you. If not, or if you’d prefer to be home, you can find free classes online on YouTube or consider paying for an app that offers yoga classes.

    • PT | January 17, 2022 at 1:55 pm

      Started regularly practicing 3 yrs ago! Best thing I could had done. Everyone should do 2+ sessions a week.

    • Lillian | January 17, 2022 at 11:46 am

      Are they doing this is in the winter in Murray? Exactly where do they do it?

      • Extra Mile Staff | January 18, 2022 at 9:04 am

        Lillian – You’d need to do a google search to see where classes are offered in your area. You can always look online on sites like YouTube to find virtual classes as well.

    • Ursula McGowen | January 16, 2022 at 7:10 pm

      I’ve done Yoga off and on since the 80’s, I started at home with Yoga books, then I had classes. For the last seven years I have taken classes at the YMCA. I try to take classes that to me is the true Yoga: slow – so you have time to unhook your joints before you go on to the next posture. Sometimes slow classes are not available later in the morning (especially during the pandemic now), so I was in the FLOW Yoga class. In the seven years at the Y I have been hurt three times now and always during the ‘sun salutation’. How can a person do nice controlled breathing when rushing like an idiot through the sun salutation? I was told to go through it at my pace, but if I don’t do all the postures why should I even be doing it. It’s more fun doing it with other people, but for now I do it at home again, because I see the value of SLOW Yoga. If a person wants a cardio workout do aerobics!

      • Pete Kestell | January 19, 2022 at 5:06 pm

        I agree with you. I do yoga at home. Have tried to do it with videos on Utube. They go so fast. How can you even have time to stretch. I have been using a format from a book I picked up. “Real Men Do Yoga”. I had gone thru this book slowly at first, easing into the poses. Then at the end they have a formmated lesson, which I do at my own pace. I find, like you, the more time you spend in a pose the more I get out of it and over time the easier it is to do. I do it for strength and stretching, so I tend to hold the poses longer than recommended.

      • Extra Mile Staff | January 21, 2022 at 1:00 pm

        Pete – Thanks for reading and commenting! You might like to check out Yin Yoga. “A passive practice, Yin Yoga involves variations of seated and supine poses typically held for 3 to 5 minutes, accessing deeper layers of fascia.”

    • Anita Cobb | January 16, 2022 at 2:12 pm

      I want to learn yoga 🧘‍♀️ I have never done it. I would very much like info on it

    • Linna Croteau | January 16, 2022 at 1:11 pm

      After my taking care of my husband at home under the supervision of hospice, he died. I barely left his side for months and didn’t know how stressed I had become. My sons suggested that I join a local yoga class. The first thing that I learned was that my body was so tight that I wasn’t even breathing correctly. I couldn’t relax enough to take a deep breath. I had to learn to breathe correctly all over again. Over time I gradually began to relax and get my flexibility back while learning mindfulness. Yoga was so helpful that five year later I still do yoga every day. The benefits of yoga are phenomenal.

    • Sam Zartman | January 16, 2022 at 10:45 am

      Years ago, I was a faithful yoga and exercise person. Although I cannot think of the ONE thing that cause this disinterest, I now devote most of my time to my three Great Danes. I’m gonna try to ease myself back into thinking and acting healthier. My Danes have agreed to help with this transition. With the aid of your site, I’m planning to begin tomorrow, depending on the amount of snow we get here.

    • Jeanette Jackimowicz | January 16, 2022 at 6:46 am

      Thanks for re-posting this article. Plan on starting within the next few months.

    • Barry smith | January 15, 2022 at 9:43 pm

      At any age, you start re-inventing yourself and yoga can make that happen, as it’s a new way to keep moving any growing for all the right reasons. Anyone can do it, get a trainer to lead and guide you so you don’t give up!

    • Rita Crowley | January 15, 2022 at 7:50 pm

      Excellent article. I’ve been practicing yoga for eight years now and the benefits are still evident.

    • Nina L. Murphy | January 15, 2022 at 6:21 pm

      I love the article on Yoga, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for years. I have NOT tried it yet, for I have many physical issues: fractured foot, lower back pain, severe neck pain, and now my hands are swelling. I also have balance and posture issues, which make me want to try Yoga. I’ve always felt I have too many physical issues to do Yoga, BUT your article makes me want to give it a try. I just turned 70, and am young in mind, but my body is slowly breaking down, I need strengthening, and help with balance.
      Thank you for this great article, you’ve made me think twice, and I appreciate that.

      • Jane Fitzgerald | January 17, 2022 at 3:08 pm

        Nina, find a place that does chair yoga. I am 68, and have never had any of my aches and pains be negatively affected by chair yoga. It is mainly stretching and holding poses, but you simply do what you can do, and don’t worry about anyone around you. I found that it improved my flexibility and balance considerably. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly one hour passed, and I was never sore afterwards, as I was with more traditional exercise.
        Try it, and good luck!

    • Carolyn jean Duncan | January 15, 2022 at 6:11 pm

      My sister and me have been doing restoritive Yoga now in my home for about 2 1/2 years. We exercise for an hour or so 4 mornings a week. We really enjoy it too. We have also found that it does help the mind and it is helping us get these old bodies into better shape. We would recommend anybody to get started and enjoy.

    • Susan Steinhauser | January 15, 2022 at 5:40 pm

      Every morning I do 5-10 minutes of yoga. I start out in child’s pose and note how much of a pull I feel in my lower back as I lower my head to the floor. After just 5 minutes of a few basic poses, I do child’s pose again and am AMAZED at how much lower I can get with significant less strain in my back. It is incredible how something so “small” and simple can have such a huge impact! I also have gotten stronger over time with is a wonderful feeling 🙂

    • Judy Hofffhine | January 15, 2022 at 4:52 pm

      I’d love to do his but can’t find a group b cause I live in a small town. Any suggestions?

    • sandra kasprzak | January 15, 2022 at 4:49 pm

      I take a yoga class

    • Mary gracey | January 15, 2022 at 4:31 pm

      Do senior chair yoga for past 6 Years very beneficial and helped me not to age rapidly very happy no pain all gain

    • Kathy Ellgen | January 15, 2022 at 4:19 pm

      My question to ask is this, I have had both knees replaced and I would like to learn Yoga, to strengthen my legs and core because I lost all muscle strength after having that done.
      So what Yoga series would be the best fit for me? (No water Yoga available)
      Thanks for your assistance!
      Kathy

    • Carolyn Marie Estrada | January 15, 2022 at 3:33 pm

      Initially, it was my belief that yoga is under the guise of spiritism which is in connection with magic, chanting to the invisible world by emptying the mind and disconnecting from the material world and the people around them. There are people of different belief systems and is apprehensive, if not afraid of this process. I am one of them.

    • alan r hoxie | January 15, 2022 at 3:05 pm

      I teach a senior beginner class in Goodyear AZ and I combine plates with yoga because pilates is designed for core strength and small muscle back strength. If you would like me to do an article I would be happy to my class is on You Tube under Guru Hoxo Yoga

    • Carol | January 15, 2022 at 2:49 pm

      I am now 79 years. I took yoga from 2010 to 2019. I have been on oxygen for 5 years now. My son wanted me to move with him, 80 miles away. Then Covid 19 hit the world. I really loved yoga and miss it.

    • Maurice Jones | January 15, 2022 at 2:32 pm

      Very good and informative article. I have practiced yoga prior pandemic and found it very relaxing and enjoyable. Would love to resume taking a yoga class in my area.

    • Dianne | January 15, 2022 at 2:28 pm

      I’ve been doing yoga for 15 years. The benefits are amazing. I recently had my knee replaced. The doctor said my healing time was 1/2 the normal time. He said yoga played a big part in it. Just being able to keep active is so important as the birthdays keep coming!

    • harry h hauca | January 15, 2022 at 2:24 pm

      What yoga classes are available by me are always very early in the morning. I’m trying to find something closeby and affordable

    • Kenneth H. Wax | January 15, 2022 at 2:06 pm

      This info has made want try yoga. I put it off years. Time to do it

    • Bonnie Copeland | January 15, 2022 at 2:02 pm

      Are you offering classes in yoga? Or is this just information about yoga. If you are offering classes, please let me know where I can attend in Buffalo, NY area.

      • Extra Mile Staff | January 16, 2022 at 5:36 pm

        Bonnie – Thanks for reading. We aren’t offering classes, but just letting readers know about the benefits of yoga. You can google to find classes near you or check out YouTube for free pre-recorded classes.

    • Margy Skinner | January 15, 2022 at 1:46 pm

      I started chair yoga classes two years ago to strengthen my core following a back injury and found I got so much more out of it than a stronger core. My back has healed and my balance is much improved and I’m not affected by stress as before. Yoga truly benefits the mind, body and soul, I am a life long yogi now!

    • Kathy Harris | January 15, 2022 at 1:37 pm

      Yoga has helped me with my mobility. The stretching helps my back problems.

    • Arturo Cuellar | January 15, 2022 at 1:19 pm

      Thank you for sharing this important information. Unfortunately nothing in the city where I live; Tooele, Utah.

      Thanks anyway!

      • Extra Mile Staff | January 16, 2022 at 5:34 pm

        Arturo – Check out classes online. You can even find free classes on YouTube.

    • Pam DeGraaff | January 15, 2022 at 1:12 pm

      Love yoga however the classes I have found are so expensive I can’t afford them.

      • Extra Mile Staff | January 16, 2022 at 5:34 pm

        Check out YouTube – lots of free pre-recording classes there.

    • James Jernigan | January 15, 2022 at 12:33 pm

      A common error is trying to stretch beyond one’s comfort level. Instead, bend until you just feel a gentle stretch which you can hold for several seconds or longer without discomfort, then release. Doing this regularly will almost certainly increase range of motion, and with time, you won’t want to miss a session. So many benefits!

    • Vitoria Vittori | January 15, 2022 at 12:26 pm

      I did yoga for many years, then life got in the way, and I was diagnosed with glaucoma, and advised to stop because of inversion poses. I’m glad I can restart, just avoiding those poses, although they’re very good, just not for me.

    • Joann Barnard | January 13, 2022 at 2:07 pm

      How to find Hatha Yoga.

    • Westchester Yoga Arts | April 6, 2021 at 4:29 pm

      Thankyou for sharing valuable information. It was worth reading.

    • Maria Pallares | May 17, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      Thank you for this great information!!

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