A key to aging gracefully?

Two IAYT-certified yoga therapists, Carol Krucoff and Kimberly Carson, have just published a paper in the medical journal Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation detailing the elements of safe yoga practice for seniors. They write that more than a third of the people who practice yoga in the United States are over 50 and do so for its many health benefits. According to the paper, 

[Y]oga has been shown to relieve many ailments common among older adults—including improving blood pressure, heart rate and insulin resistance, relieving anxiety and depression, easing back pain, and alleviating sleep problems. On a cellular level, one study even described improvements in biological markers of aging in people who practice yoga and meditation, suggesting that these practices “may hold the key to delay aging or aging gracefully.”

The authors, part of a team at Duke Integrative Medicine, present a comprehensive approach for those who offer yoga to seniors. Their “Continuum of Practice” tool “bring[s] together the best of current, evidence-based medicine with the ancient wisdom, experience, and tradition of yogic teachings.” Classical yoga postures may not be appropriate for many people (one reason this blog recommends working with a well-trained professional!). This tool presents guidelines for modifying movements to engender health benefits without increasing risk to seniors or those who are injured or ill, or who have a condition that needs accommodation.

Carol and Kimberly note that our bodies tend to react and recover more slowly as we age. Other age-related changes to bone density, muscle mass, our vestibular systems, cognition, and the elasticity and resiliency in our tissues also require consideration. Because aging-related changes vary greatly among individuals, these yoga therapists developed the continuum to support reliable and safe individualization of yoga postures and practices. 

Read the full article, The Yoga for Seniors “Continuum of Practice: An Evidence-Informed Methodology for Creating Safe and Effective Posture Modifications, for a complete description of the new tool. And find an IAYT-certified yoga therapist to work with by searching the IAYT database.

The yogatherapy.health blog has published several posts on yoga and healthy aging. Here is a roundup: