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International Yoga Day 2023: 8 Yoga Asanas And Techniques To Help Senior Citizens

ByTeam BB

Jun 21, 2023

Every year on June 21, International Yoga Day is observed, with the aim of highlighting the importance of yoga and its many health benefits. Over the years, yoga gained in popularity across the world because of the holistic benefits it offers – it’s good for not only your physical fitness but for your mental health too. Also being essentially a low-intensity workout, yoga – when done under proper guidance – can be practiced by people of varying fitness levels and ages. Let’s find out with JetSynthesys’ master Sneha Desai how and what type of yoga asanas can benefit senior citizens.  

International Yoga Day 2023: Benefits Of Yoga For Elderly

Sneha Desai says, “Seniors, who often struggle with pain, joint stress, imbalance, osteoarthritis, and other physical limitations, can benefit from incorporating a yoga practice into their daily routine. Many yoga poses focus on balance and stability, both incredibly important as you age. When we focus on opening the inner legs, and outer hips, and strengthening the quads – it helps maintain the balance in the body and helps reduce back and knee pains.”

Some potential benefits of yoga include:

• Improved strength, flexibility, and physical balance

• Increased mobility

• Decreased risk of falls

• Improved quality of sleep

• Improved cognition and mental health

• Decreased pain

• Improving metabolic function, for conditions such as hypertension, high glucose levels, high cholesterol, weight management

Yoga Asanas For Senior Citizens

Sneha Desai lists the following asanas for senior citizens:

1. Side Warrior Pose / Virabhadrasana

How to do it:

• Find a steady standing position, bringing your feet a leg’s distance apart.

• Pivot your right foot 90 degrees to the right while angling your left foot slightly inward.

• Place your hands on your waist, grounding through the feet and lengthening through the crown, or top of the head.

• Breathe deeply, and on your exhale, bend your right knee until it’s in line with the ankle below it.

• Extend your arms out from your shoulders while turning your gaze over your front hand.

• Breathe and hold the pose for five deep breaths. Feel the strength of the pose.

• To release, press into your right foot, straighten your right leg, and pivot your feet back to centre.

• Return to a comfortable standing position.

• Repeat on the other side.

• Can be done sitting on a chair for better alignment.

Benefits: This pose helps improve strength and balance, according to Brahmani Liebman, an internationally recognized yoga teacher. It focuses on the lower extremities, including muscles like the gluteus maximus, quadriceps muscles, and supporting muscles of the low back and core, which are muscle groups that help with overall balance and body strength.

2. Supta Matsyendrasana/ Simple Reclining Twist With A Pillow

How to do it:

• Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart.

• Keep your hands at 180 degrees at shoulder level, palms facing upwards.

• Keep a pillow on the side the leg is going to, support the leg on the pillow.

• Twist your body to your left side and head to your right side without lifting the shoulders, straighten your left leg.

• Breathe deeply and hold the pose for a couple of breaths.

• To release gently start coming back in the centre. 

• Pause, breathe and feel the effect of the pose.

• Repeat on the other side.

• Can be practiced on a bed before sleeping or before getting off the bed.

Benefits: This pose is considered a restorative posture. “The practice of passively holding postures targets the connective tissues and bones, allowing the body to find its natural alignment,” explains Liebman. “As we age, the body can benefit tremendously from restorative poses like this, as it keeps the joints more fluid, allowing our movements to be with greater ease. This pose can be very beneficial before bed to help the nervous system calm down.”

Note: This pose is contraindicated for older adults with osteoporosis (or a history of spinal compression fractures)

3.  Eka Pada Rajakapotasana / Seated pigeon pose

How to do it:

• Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.

• Lift your right leg and rest your right ankle on your left knee. Make your form as square as you can.

• You may do the pose in this position. For a greater stretch, bend forward as far as you comfortably can.

• Hold the position for about 5 deep breaths.

• Repeat on the other side.

Benefits: This odd position opens the hips and inner legs that help you sit in different positions and may aid with digestion. It allows the back to feel relaxed.

4. Marjaryasana / Bitilasana – Cat / Cow pose

How to do it:

• Start in tabletop position – palms under the shoulders and knees under hips, neutral spine

• Breathe in to drop the belly down and arch the back, lift the chin up

• Breathe out to round the back and push into the earth with palms

• Repeat 5-10 times and then return to tabletop position

• This can be practiced with the hands on the chair, wall, or table in case of any knee or back issue.

Variations: If the knees hurt, use a blanket under the knees.  You can also practice the seated chair yoga variation of this pose – keep the palms on the knees and move from the lower back – breath-in to arch the back and breathe out to round the back.

Benefits: Great for mobility and flexibility of the spine. It’s also great to tackle stress and can be successfully used to help with hypertension and insomnia. For seniors with back pain, this is a great pose to get started.

5. Matsyendrasana / Seated Twisting pose 

How to do it:

• Sitting on a chair with the legs on either side as wide as you can

• Take your right hand to the right side of the leg in the front and take the left hand diagonally up

• Look up at the hand and try and make the shoulders in one line

• Easy option, take any one hand on your knee & twist to the other side

• Be here for 5-8 breaths

• Repeat it on the other side

Benefits: Helps in opening the shoulders, sides, inner legs, and outer hips. Allows you to feel the twist using the core. Opens the lungs, and slows down the breath.

6. Sirsasana / Headstand 

How to do it:

• Sitting on a chair with the legs on either side as wide as you can.

• Take a deep breath in and the next breath out start bending forward from the lower back and place your hands on the floor or another chair in front of you 

• Be here for 5-8 breaths or as long as you can

• Always come back before any discomfort in the breath 

• Allow yourself to go as down as you can BUT only if you are comfortable

Benefits: By doing this you will get a blood rush to the head which will allow all the nerves to get the blood flow, and also allows the inner legs to open up along with the outer hip. Relaxes the breath and also feels good on the back.

Note: People who have very high BP should not stay there for more than 3 breaths, also should keep someone around if required.

7. Lying With Knees On Pillow

How to do it:

• Lying on your back place your knees over a bolster or 2 cushions to support the knees

• Allow your legs to relax down and make sure your back is flat

• Allow your hands to be out at shoulder level or hip level with palms facing up

• Make sure your head is relaxed and comfortable

• Be here as long as you can

• To come back bend your knees, turn on any one side and then sit up 

Benefits: Helps the lower back, and knees, releases stress and anxiety, allowing the breath to be totally relaxed. Very good for high BP and anxiety. Can be practiced on a mat or on the bed. The best results are found just before sleeping.

8. Lying On Pillow For Sciatica And Back Pain Relief

How to do it:

• Lying on your back place your knees till the ankle over a bolster or 2 cushions to support, making the leg at a 90-degree angle

• Allow your legs to relax down and make sure your back is flat

• Support your head with another small pillow or your hand or just rest it down on the ground next to the hand

• Make sure your head is relaxed and comfortable

• Be here as long as you can

• To come back bend your knees, turn, and repeat on the other side 

Benefits: Helps the lower back, sciatica pain, releases stress and anxiety allowing the breath to be totally relaxed. It’s very good for high BP and anxiety, and best for sleep. Can be practiced on a mat or on the bed. The best results are found just before you get off the bed in the morning.


(This article is meant for informational purposes only and must not be considered a substitute for advice provided by qualified medical professionals. Views expressed by the expert quoted in the article are their own, Zee News does not confirm it. Always consult your doctor and fitness expert before starting on any new exercise regime.)


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