Yoga is a great help to seniors. I’ve been working with seniors for 3 years now and have great results with them finding back lost mobility and balance. In one study, 135 seniors were assigned to either six months of yoga, walking or a control group. Practicing yoga significantly improved quality of life, as well as mood and fatigue, compared to the other groups (1).
In the UK, a £1.4 million study is now being conducted by the University of York and Northumbria University's Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation. 600 adults aged 65 and above who have multi-morbidity from across 12 different locations in the UK are following a 12 weeks yoga programme. The main focus of the study is assessing the effect of the yoga programme on people's overall quality of life. If these results are positive, they will provide evidence for healthcare commissioners to fund yoga within the NHS. Results of an earlier pilot trial demonstrated not only the benefits of exercise, but that yoga classes provided a positive social element, which helped reduce feelings of isolation.
Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. People with bad posture or dysfunctional movement patterns usually have poor proprioception, which has been linked to knee problems and back pain. Better balance could mean fewer falls. For the elderly, this translates into more independence and delayed admission to a nursing home or never entering one at all.
Another study assigned 66 elderly participants to either practice yoga or calisthenics, a type of body weight exercise. After one year, total flexibility of the yoga group increased by nearly four times that of the calisthenics group (2). A 2013 study also found that practicing yoga could help improve balance and mobility in older adults (3). Practicing just 15–30 minutes of yoga each day could make a big difference for those looking to enhance performance by increasing flexibility and balance.