Anyone can benefit from this incredibly simple practice—no experience necessary.
Yoga is for every body, at every stage of life. And it doesn’t have to be fancy.
“If you’re moving and breathing, you’re doing yoga,” says Terecita “Ti” Blair, the 2017 SilverSneakers Instructor of the Year. “It can be gentle or strengthening, stimulating or calming.”
The benefits are huge, says Blair: “Yoga increases strength, mobility, and range of motion. It eases pain, lowers blood pressure, improves your mood, boosts confidence … the list goes on.”
There are three main components of a yoga practice: breathing, physical postures, and calming the mind. The breath is key, because moving in coordination with your breath helps strengthen the mind-body connection.
“We all hold our breath at times—either from excitement, fear, surprise, or anger—and our muscles will do as our breath does,” Blair says. “Holding your breath tends to result in tense, held muscles, while breathing and relaxing does the opposite and helps calm the nervous system.”
It’s easy to bring yoga into your daily life. “The next time you find yourself tensing up, simply remember to breathe,” Blair says. It may seem insignificant, but a better awareness of your breath can make a big difference in your daily stress level.
Ready to give yoga a try? Follow this simple guide, whether you have 30 seconds or 30 minutes. And don’t worry about improvising along the way. “You can be as practical or as creative as you like,” Blair says.
Step #1: Take Three Deep Breaths
Allow yourself to take a big breath in as if your whole body just ate a lemon, scrunching your face and tensing your body. As you exhale, let it all go, making some noise and maybe shaking your limbs and fluttering your lips. Do this three times.
It may seem silly, says Blair, but this is an excellent way to discover hidden tension in your body. It’s also a nice reminder that laughter is medicine.
Step #2: Find Your Best Posture
Now that you’ve got the wiggles out, root down through your feet to find your best posture. Seal your lips and practice breathing in and out of your nose, says Blair. See if you can find a slow, steady, continuous breath that you can maintain throughout your practice.
Step #3: Stand Tall
Now it’s time for your first posture: mountain pose. Lengthen your spine, take a deep breath in, and roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Your palms can face forward or in toward your thighs, says Blair—whatever is most comfortable. Simply breathe here in mountain pose with your belly drawn in and chest lifted.
Step #4: Start to Move
Next, feel free to add movement. Inhale and sweep your arms out to the side and then up to the sky, says Blair. Exhale, lowering your arms back to a T and then down to your sides. Do this for as long as you’d like. Or create your own pattern. For example, breathe in mountain pose for a minute, raise and lower your arms three times, return to mountain, and repeat.
Step #5: Make It Yours
If you’d like to take your practice one step further, attach meaning to your movement that’s powerful and personal. For example, inhale love and exhale fear, suggests Blair. Or inhale “I open myself to life” and exhale “I let go of the struggle.” You can make this practice yours and be as creative as you’d like.
This entire practice can also be done from a chair. Simply follow the steps as you sit up tall.
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