What Are the Benefits of Yoga for Seniors?

iAmmentorpDK/iStock/Getty Images

Seniors often suffer from multiple chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, arthritis, and poor sleep. Yoga has long been shown to alleviate the symptoms of many such conditions, combining physical poses with relaxation and breathing techniques, to improve overall health and well-being. Check with your physician before beginning.

Improved Sleep Habits

If you suffer from lack of sleep, yoga may help you sleep better. A study that compared an herbal sleep remedy to yoga found that yoga improved sleep duration and decreased the time needed to fall asleep. The physical demands of yoga, along with its breathing and relaxation techniques, may be the reason for improved quality of sleep. Better sleep translates into improved quality of life — meaning you'll feel better during the day.

Chronic Pain Relief

Many seniors suffer from chronic pain in joints and muscles — areas yoga is known to help. In only four weeks of yoga, participants in a Harbor-UCLA Medical Center study reported needing less pain medication. Seniors may find that participating in a physical activity reduces pain, and may also see psychological benefits of the social interaction of a yoga class.

Reduced Blood Pressure

Yoga has been reported to reduce high blood pressure, often a serious health concern for seniors. Yoga incorporates calming techniques and physical activity, which both help to lower blood pressure. Indeed, participants in a medical study in India saw their blood pressure decrease during three months of yoga. A second study, cited by the Inner IDEA website, reported that yoga's breathing techniques reduced blood pressure better than a soothing activity such as listening to relaxing music.

Improved Flexibity and Range of Motion

As you age and become less active, you may notice you are not as flexible as you were at a younger age. Yoga enhances flexibility and joint range of motion through physical poses that stretch muscles and lubricate joints. Those suffering from arthritis and other stiff-joint conditions can also benefit from yoga. Poses that involve smooth movements may be more beneficial than static poses. A few days of yoga classes, or of at-home yoga exercises, might be all you need to start feeling more limber and mobile.