Saturday, November 30, 2013

Yoga for Seniors

Are you interested in lowering your BMI (Body Mass Index)? If your lingerie budget is as skimpy as mine post-retirement, before you spring for the caffeine panties I wrote about last week, you might want to look into yoga exercises. They not only relax you and tone your body, they’re purported to help keep your weight under control.

There are quite a few exercises that shouldn’t be too challenging for seniors, but would still provide benefits. Several of them can be done using chairs and walls, and therefore don’t require us to get down on a mat. Or more importantly, to get up from one when we’re done. However, most of the ones I’m sharing today have you at least partly on the floor. You can thank me later.

Yoga helps stretch our muscles, ligaments and tendons. It also improves our flexibility and increases our range of motion, all admirable objectives. According to, “you don't need to be able to tie yourself in knots to become more flexible.” That’s a relief. I always thought that true yogis needed the ability to turn themselves into pretzels. On that note, let’s try some poses.

We’re starting with the One-legged Breaking Wind Pose to help get rid of excess stomach gas. Lie on your back with arms and legs extended. Exhale, draw your knees to your chest and clasp your hands around them until you break wind. Straighten just your left leg, extending it along the floor. Then bring your left knee back to your chest and hold until you fart again. Release and extend your right leg. Bring your right knee back to your chest and exhale for one final wind breaker. I hope you feel better now.

Legs in Parentheses improves flexibility and has been adapted especially for seniors. Sit on the floor and spread your legs apart as much as you comfortably can. If you’re able to straighten them quite widely, by all means, go for the traditional Legs in V. But feel free to bend your knees slightly into parentheses. Lean forward and feel your leg muscles stretching as you count to ten. Lean back. Repeat.

The Shiva Shiver is an obscure yoga pose that helps you lose weight. Supposedly, if you shiver for one hour, you burn 400 calories. Stand in front of your freezer in your underwear. Open the door and put your head inside. Within a few minutes, you should start to shiver. Stay like this for 15 minutes and you’ll burn 100 calories. Hint: empty the freezer out first, in case you fall in, and set a timer to revive you when you’re done. The Shiva Shiver gives new meaning to the phrase “freezer burn.”

Quarter Spinal Twist is great for women with osteoporosis; it lengthens and strengthens your spine. So put on some Chubby Checker and let’s do The Twist. Sit with the bottoms of your feet under your butt. Then place your left foot flat on the floor next to your right knee. If you can’t reach the floor with your foot flat, touch with just your toe. Twist to the left a quarter turn until your foot comes off the floor, or until your muffin top pinches. Switch feet and legs and twist again.

One of my favorite positions is Downward Facing Cat. It helps us strengthen our abdominal and back muscles, improving our balance. Get down on all fours, like a cat. If you’re not sure how this looks, go to your local animal shelter and adopt a cat. Bring it home and watch it for a few hours. Then stretch like your feline friend, rounding your spine, with your head down. says: “As you reverse this… the head comes up and the belly droops.” Boy, have I got this position covered!

The unfortunately-named Corpse pose helps you relax at the end of your yoga session. I didn’t need a website to tell me that. I doze off almost every time I do the Corpse. I just never had a name for it. Climbing the Wall is a variation for seniors. Lie on your back on the floor with legs straight up against a wall, arms slightly out from your sides. Then wiggle around. It’s a good way to scratch your back when it’s driving you crazy. It’s also the end of our session.

Master these six yoga poses and you’ll be well on your way to senior Nirvana, with lower blood pressure, better balance and improved flexibility. Some of you will also have a lower BMI and a new cat to keep you warm. I’m here to serve.

1 comment:

Linda Hoye said...

Oh Elaine, you had me laughing with this one. I may or may not have executed one of these poses in yoga class by accident. 'Nuff said.