A group of senior men and women strike a yoga pose outdoors.

6 Best Yoga Poses for Active Older Adults

Yoga has a variety of health benefits that include improving flexibility and balance, reducing stress levels, relieving insomnia, and increasing strength. However, the best part about yoga is that it’s for every kind of body.

Whether you have only a few minutes for a restorative pose or you’ve scheduled time for a full session, check out these 6 yoga poses for seniors to feel the power of this ancient practice.

1. Cat/Cow flow

Cat/cow is a yoga flow that all skill levels can achieve. It’s great for decreasing stiffness in your back, improving core strength, increasing blood circulation, strengthening your pelvic floor, lengthening your spine, and stretching your hips and abdomen. The calming inhalations and exhalations between poses are also a good way to decrease stress and relieve anxiety.

Transition from Table Top to Cow Pose:
Begin in Table Top Pose, with your hands flat on the floor, wrists directly beneath your shoulders, and spine in a straight line that extends from the top of your head to the base of your tailbone.
Slowly inhale through the movement.
From Table Top Pose, raise your tailbone upward by tilting your pelvis.
Let your toes support your feet, curling them flat against the floor.
Engage your core as you feel your stomach naturally drop to create a gentle curve in your spine.
Gently press your shoulders back, as you lift your head.
Hold for a moment.

Transition to Cat Pose:
Slowly exhale through the movement.
Gently tilt your pelvis forward until you feel your tailbone tuck.
Move your toes flat against the floors and feel the tops of your feet press into your mat.
Raise your core to create a gentle curvature of your spine in the opposite direction of Cow Pose.
Round your shoulders and lower your head until you can see (or almost see) your navel.
Hold for a moment.
Transition back to Cow Pose, repeat Cat/Cow, flowing breath-to-movement (5-10 breaths per set) for as many times as you’d like.

Cat/Cow can also be performed from a seated position. Just sit straight up in a chair, sink back into seated Cow Pose, allowing your shoulder blades to round and dropping your head. Focus on pulling your stomach in and upwards. Then slowly lift your chest and chin up toward the sky, as you roll your shoulders back.

2. Balancing Table (Bird Dog Pose)

We like this yoga pose for older adults because it’s an excellent way to improve your core and strengthen your lower back while protecting it, even if you’ve experienced an injury.

Begin in Tabletop Pose.
Keeping your weight centered, practice lifting one hand and the opposite knee just an inch or two off the floor while balancing on the other hand and knee.
When you feel confident in your balance, point one arm out straight in front and extend the opposite leg behind you.
Form a straight line from your hand to your foot, keeping hips squared to the ground.
Hold for two or three breaths, then return to Tabletop Pose.
Switch and repeat on the other side.

Balancing Table Pose can be easily changed for seniors who struggle with balance or are uncomfortable with their knees on the floor. Safely lie on a physioball and raise your opposite leg and arm.

3. Warrior I and II

Warrior I and II are two of our favorite yoga poses for seniors, because they improve balance and increase strength by making you more aware of your body positioning and spatial orientation. They stretch your quadriceps and hamstrings, improve core strength, and open your hips.

Warrior I can reduce pain from sciatica and improve breathing and circulation, while Warrior II can improve your posture and open your hips. Both poses are excellent for improving knee strength and stability.

Step your feet apart with a wide, but still comfortable, distance between them.
Turn your right foot out to the side 45 degrees.
Gently push the heel of your left foot away from you and slowly bend your front knee.
Turn your hips to face your right foot, so that your upper body and right toes are facing the same direction.
Keep your core strong, pulling your navel in toward your spine.
Bring your hands together at heart-center, stretch them forward, or raise both arms to the sky.

To transition from Warrior II to Warrior II:
Twist your hips and torso back to the front of the room.
Keep your right knee bent, and your feet in the same position they were in for Warrior I.
You can stretch your arms out wide to each side or place your hands on your hips.

Sometimes known as Flying Dragon, the next pose in the series, Warrior III, is a more advanced yoga pose. However, mastering this balance challenge is an exceptional way to prevent injuries from falls and strengthen every muscle in your legs, including muscles in your feet and ankles.

4. Legs Up the Wall

Legs Up the Wall is a restorative pose that can help support your lymphatic system, relieve aching muscles and joints, reduce swelling in your legs, and activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which aids your body in relaxation. In fact, many experts recommend Legs Up the Wall Pose before bed to aid in a restful night’s sleep and decrease leg pain from a long day of standing or walking.

To get started, place your yoga mat against the wall, so that the short edge of the mat is touching the wall.
Lie down on your mat, lift your legs and maneuver yourself towards the wall.
Your legs should be comfortable here, so scoot closer to or further away from the wall, if you need to.
Focus on breathing slowly and calmly, moving your awareness from the tops of your feet to the crown of your head and back again.
Come out of the posture by hugging your knees into your chest and rolling to one side.

Legs Up the Wall Pose and other inversions aren’t safe for those with certain medical conditions like hernia, hypertension, glaucoma, and those recovering from surgery in the abdomen area.

However, there are many other yoga poses for seniors that aid in relaxation. Mountain Pose (Tadasana) is helpful, as is Half Butterfly Pose (Ardha Titali Asana), which is a good pose for those with heart conditions. You should always consult your physician before starting yoga or any new exercise program.

5. Savasana

No yoga session is complete without this final posture. Although it looks easy, Savasana is often called the most difficult of the asanas. Though it’s easy for some to bend and twist their way through a yoga session, many struggle with just relaxing on the floor and being present in the moment.

Practicing Savasana can help you enter a refreshing state that can calm your central nervous system, reduce stress and anxiety, and help you get better sleep.

Lie on your back with your knees bent or legs extended. It’s important to remain as comfortable as possible. Support parts of your body, like your lower back and neck, with blankets or yoga bolsters, if you need to.
Keep your head centered, not allowing it to fall to either side.
Extend your arms to the sides.
Allow your breath to flow smoothly in and out.
Close your eyes and relax your face.

Continue to bring attention to each part of the body, consciously relaxing each part, starting with the head and traveling to your feet. You can practice Savasana with guided meditations online that include topics like compassion, forgiveness, mindfulness of emotions, and more.

Find Balance, Focus on Fitness, and Nurture Your Well-Being at Timber Ridge at Talus

We feature a variety of ways for people of every fitness level to stay active at our senior independent living community in Issaquah, WA. From yoga classes to our state-of-the-art fitness center and indoor pools, there’s always something to inspire you to keep moving. Contact our residency specialists online to learn how you can thrive at Timber Ridge at Talus.