The ancient practice of yoga is enormously beneficial for the body and the mind. It reduces stress and anxiety and improves the function of nearly every organ in the body. Yoga improves core strength, loosens the joints and builds muscle, helping to prevent falls in the elderly. Falls are the leading cause of broken bones and hospitalizations for seniors, so taking the proper steps to prevent falls inside the home is essential. Don’t worry; yoga isn’t just for those who can put their foot behind their head! Chair yoga is highly beneficial and can improve strength and balance. The best thing about yoga is that it can be practiced gradually and poses can become more challenging as you build strength, lengthen and strengthen your muscles.
It is best to seek a local yoga class where the instructor can guide you as you learn the poses. If you believe that your loved one would benefit from fall prevention exercises, research senior yoga classes in your area. Yoga centers offer them and some senior centers do as well. Search for “senior yoga” and you will find the resources in your area.
We will describe here the five yoga postures that can be practiced for fall prevention.
It is recommended that you practice these five exercises five minutes a day, five times a week. Here are the things you need to know as you begin your yoga practice:
- Breathing is very important. Don’t hold your breath. Breath in slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
- A slow, steady, rhythmic breathing will actually help you to balance in these poses.
- If you cannot get into the pose don’t force yourself. Do the ones you can achieve easily. Always use a Yoga mat so you do not slip while practicing the poses.
Downward dog: This pose elongates the spine. It is achieved by folding the body at the hips and placing the hands and feet on the floor. If you can’t reach the floor you can place your hands on a chair instead.
Crescent Lunge: This pose is done in standing position, lunging forward on one foot,
bending at the knee and holding the arms in the air or at the sides. Crescent lunge is an excellent pose for balance because the base of support is long and narrow.
Chair pose: This pose strengthens the muscles in the thighs and simulates sitting in a chair without actually using one. It involves bending the knees and hips and lowering as though you were going to sit down into a chair. This pose helps to increase strength and stability through strong leg muscles.
Bridge pose: Bridge pose increases the strength of the core muscles as well as those in the hips and legs. It is done on the floor but can also be done on a firm bed or couch. strengthens and challenges the stability of the muscles in the hips, core and legs. It involves lying on your back and raising the pelvis to create one long line between the head and the knees.
Tree pose: This pose involves standing on one leg and stabilizing the body using leg and core muscles to achieve balance. There are beginner versions of this and more advanced versions so it is a good exercise to improve balance over time.
You may find that your parents are resistant to change. Offering a new activity such as yoga can seem daunting. Talking to your loved one about fall prevention can be a difficult task, but with some tips and knowledge, you can navigate the conversation successfully. If you’re interested in seeing illustrations on how to do each of the poses outlined above, feel free to check out My Silver Age.