Seniors age 65 and older represent the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. population and — like many Americans — are increasingly drawn to yoga. One of the great things about yoga is that it is so adaptable to different populations with diverse physical abilities and needs. When it comes to those who are 65 years and older, yoga alleviates the symptoms often associated with high blood pressure, arthritis, and poor sleep.

The benefits of yoga are the same for those young and young at heart: increased muscle tone, balance, strength, improved mood, better posture, more energy, and you may find yourself sleeping better. While walking into a yoga class as an older adult can be intimidating, spending just a little time on the mat each week can make seniors feel younger, healthier, and more energetic!

Depending on your age and current level of fitness and physical ability, this will guide you to the best type of yoga class to try. Yoga classes range from gentle class with ease in strengthening and stretching to power classes that require an intense level of strength and skill. Attending a yoga class, versus trying to learn from videos or DVDs, will allow you to get the most out of a yoga practice with the least risk of injury.

With the right class and instructor, and attending a class a few times a week, over time seniors will experience all of the befits that a yoga practice provides for the mind, body, and soul. Senior students are encouraged to begin a yoga practice in a class that provides a gentle, slower pace and incorporates props for support and balance — the most popular being a chair yoga class. Chair yoga allows students to perform the asansa (or movements) in a seated position, or just use the chair for support. Speak with the instructor and let him or her know if you suffer from any chronic conditions or have any injuries. The instructor will be able to provide modifications for you.

One of the biggest improvements that Honor Yoga instructors see in their senior students is the boost in confidence! Through gradually building strength and balance, senior students become more confident to transition from using a chair for balance to letting go and placing their hands on blocks to help stabilize them.

Honor Yoga offers a variety of yoga classes geared towards seniors including Gentle, Restorative, Chair, Tai Chi and Senior Yoga. New seniors can receive an introductory offer for yoga classes for 2 weeks for $25.

Honor Yoga, 621 Route 130 North, Unit 12, Hamilton. 609-414-7171. 800 Denow Road, Unit H, Pennington. 609-667-8880.

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