The health benefits of yoga and choosing the right class

Mar 14, 2012, 10:14 a.m.

If you're looking for an activity that will help you achieve optimum wellness in mind, body and spirit, then you may want to consider an exercise like yoga. The health benefits of yoga for seniors includes a variety of physical, mental and social advantages. Yoga is something that anyone can do at any age and can be modified to suit any ability. Most yoga is not aerobic and it does not involve high-impact exercises.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the health benefits of Yoga can include:

  1. Increased strength
  2. Increases flexibility
  3. Increased range of motion
  4. Improved balance
  5. Reduced stress and anxiety
  6. Weight loss
  7. Improved posture
  8. Decreased fatigue
  9. Help with insomnia and sleep problems
  10. Reduced heart rate and blood pressure
  11. Help with the management of serious illnesses such as cancer
  12. Improved mood and help with depression
  13. Pain management

Yoga for seniors: Choosing the right class

The art of yoga comes in many forms. Here is a basic overview of the different types of yoga.

Hatha yoga tends to be slow-paced and gentle, focusing on stretching and balancing.

Vinyasa classes usually focus on breath-synchronized exercises called Sun Salutations (and the classes are usually more intense than Hatha classes).

Kundalini yoga is also focused on matching the breath to the poses and with the movement of the body's energy.

Iyengar yoga emphasizes the position of the body and it is very focused on body alignment and holding poses. Iyengar also uses props like yoga blocks and straps.

Ashtanga and Power yoga are different, in that they are fast paced and very aerobically advanced. Ashtanga matches breath to poses in a fluid rhythm.

Bikram, also known as hot yoga is a style that is performed in a hot room (like a sauna) to encourage sweating. It is used to release tight muscles and increase flexibility. Anyone interested in Bikram should talk to their doctor before taking classes.

Choosing the right yoga class is extremely important. If the classes are too difficult or they do not match a person's taste, the benefits of the practice will be reduced. Yoga for seniors can be found at community centers, private health clubs and yoga studios. Do your research and try out a few classes with different instructors.

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