4/8/2022 | By Kari Smith

The many benefits of yoga for seniors, the variety of styles, and the availability of classes in person and virtually make it worthwhile for older adults to embrace as part of a healthy lifestyle. Even many senior communities offer yoga classes, making them easily accessible, and providing an opportunity for time spent in activity with others.

If the word “yoga” brings to mind complex poses with limbs askew or in pretzel-like contortions while balanced precariously on your hands with your body practically levitating … think again. Although yoga can be incredibly complex and challenging for advanced practitioners, it can be practiced safely at most any level and age.

If you have mobility challenges, yoga can be modified to meet your needs, from simpler poses to chair yoga options, which allow you to participate from a seated position or have a stable base when standing. Seniors will find the enjoyment and benefits of yoga make it a worthwhile addition to their lives.

Even if you’ve only said “down dog” to a canine, you may still be able to incorporate yoga in your life.

Benefits of yoga for seniors

From aiding our bodies to aiding our minds, the benefits of yoga for seniors are many.

Physical benefits:

People Doing Yoga Outside, mountains in the background, with focus on senior woman. Photo By Rido Dreamstime
  • Who among us couldn’t benefit from greater flexibility? Gentle stretching, which is a key part of yoga – will help to stretch and elongate your muscles, allowing for both greater relaxation and increased range of motion. This may also help with pain relief.
  • Yoga also improves muscle tone and mobility, two important aspects of a healthy lifestyle that can deteriorate with age.
  • The core-strengthening basis of yoga is great for improving your balance, which can help prevent falls.
  • If you struggle with pulmonary difficulties, you may find that the breathing exercises incorporated into yoga may help improve your lung function. Be sure to check with your doctor or pulmonologist before beginning.

Mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits:

  • Breathing techniques, meditation, and ongoing relaxation are at the core of yoga workouts.
  • The guided meditations often used in yoga can help both during your workouts and after, as you clear your mind, focus, and become more present in the moment.
  • These benefits lead to lowered stress levels and an improved quality of life.

The experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine highlight several benefits of yoga (and suggests poses for each). Yoga, they say, improves strength, balance, and flexibility; helps with back pain relief; can ease arthritis symptoms; benefits heart health; improves relaxation and enables better sleep; can increase mental and physical energy; and aids stress management. In addition, people who join a regular yoga class become connected with a supportive community, which can ease loneliness and provide support.

Is yoga for me?

It may be wise to discuss this question with your health practitioner, who can balance your health issues against the benefits of yoga for seniors.

When you’ve been cleared to participate, you’ll want to research the types of yoga available in your area (or virtually) to determine what suits you best. Be sure to tell potential instructors your medical concerns so that they can help you choose and practice most effectively.

Types of yoga

There are many different styles of yoga, from the athletic Vinyasa yoga, the hot yoga styles practiced in a sauna-like room, relaxation-focused restorative yoga, and chair yoga for seniors and others with mobility challenges.

Yoga practice is rooted in spirituality but not in a specific religion. Some styles and teachers are more tuned in to the spiritual aspect than others. Instructors and studios that serve the general public may emphasize the spiritual awareness that is encompassed in many different religious practices. This inclusion makes yoga compatible with many religions and appropriate for people of various faith backgrounds.

Gear and equipment

Man Doing Yoga At Home Photo By Victor Koldunov Dreamstime

Unlike some sports, the necessary gear for yoga is minimal. Comfortable clothes that stretch and a quality yoga mat are the most important equipment. Some classes provide yoga mats, but you may want to bring your own for hygiene reasons. Classes also use and provide equipment such as blocks, straps, and bolsters. If you practice at home, you may want to invest in these.


The popularity of yoga means a wide array of available classes. Check your local YMCA and other fitness centers, yoga-focused businesses, and local senior centers and government parks and rec classes. An experienced teacher can gently guide you to ensure that you are gaining the most from your yoga practice and that you aren’t doing anything incorrectly – and possibly harmful. Classes provide the added benefit of social interaction.

You can also find books, videos, apps, and online yoga routines to fit your needs.

Books such as Yoga for Seniors or Chair Yoga may be excellent resources if you feel more comfortable reading and researching the topic before you begin. DVDs such as Yoga Vitality may be a great option if you don’t have the option of streaming content on your TV. If you do have the ability to stream, there are many videos on YouTube, such as this Full-Length Gentle Yoga Class for Beginners and Seniors. A simple search for “gentle yoga”, “yoga for seniors,” or “chair yoga” will bring up many options. Try several until you find a style, routine, or instructor that you feel comfortable with.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’ll want to set goals, and start slowly to work toward them. If it hurts, stop! Skip any poses that you fear you may not be able to do, and don’t push yourself far beyond your limits. You may find yourself feeling more capable as time goes on. Either way, take the first step, and see what yoga can do for you!

Kari Smith

Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.

Kari Smith