Yoga for Seniors: Which Type Is Best for You?

By Lauren Bedosky |

From chair yoga to hatha to vinyasa, here’s your guide to eight popular yoga types every older adult should know.

group of people doing yoga

There are countless reasons to add yoga to your routine. Research shows a regular practice not only improves balance and mobility in older adults, but it may also help ease back pain, relieve depression, and even reduce blood pressure for people with hypertension.

“Yoga can help keep the body agile,” says Terry Cockburn, a yoga instructor and owner of Freeport Yoga Company in Freeport, Maine. “It can also help you maintain proprioception, or the awareness of where your body is in relation to everything else,” she says.

That translates to a reduced risk of falls—which is especially compelling, considering falls are the leading cause of injuries in adults older than 65.

So, if you’ve considered trying yoga, now is the time to do it! You don’t have to be flexible or experienced to get started. To help you find the best class for your fitness level and personality, we break down eight of the most popular yoga types.

Getting Started Safely and Confidently

If you have a chronic condition, balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely. For example, if you have osteoporosis, you can participate in yoga—but you may need to avoid forward bends and twists. But with proper medical guidance, even people who have previously fallen or been seriously injured can get stronger with yoga.

Then, keep in mind that teaching styles may vary between yoga classes and instructors, so it’s a good idea to call your local studio or fitness center before committing to a new class.

“Let them know what your concerns are, particularly if you have any health conditions,” says Sage Rountree, yoga instructor and coauthor of Lifelong Yoga. “They might steer you toward something that’s an even better fit for you than what you might choose for yourself.”

Yoga Style #1: Restorative

Best for: Beginners, older athletes, and anyone recovering from an injury

Relaxation is key in restorative yoga, which is especially helpful for anyone recovering from an injury. Classes tend to focus more on stress relief than flowing from one pose to the next.

Expect to use props like yoga blocks, straps, and cushions to support your body in various standing and floor poses. You’ll hold postures for enough time to allow the mind to tune out and calm down.

“If you’ve never taken a restorative yoga class before, you might be surprised by how much tension your body is holding,” says Alison Heilig, a registered yoga teacher at Yoga Bliss Studios in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

“You realize your muscles are tense and doing stuff all the time,” she says. “And until you really have a chance to stay in one position and be supported, like in restorative yoga, you don’t feel them let go.”

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