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6 Yoga Poses That Age Well

By Katherine Tweed
WebMD Feature

You can do yoga at any age -- really! It's just a matter of picking what type of yoga you do and working within your abilities.

It might even help you age better, keeping you flexible and building strength through low-impact moves.

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“We lose about a half-pound of muscle per year for each year we’re not regularly engaged in resistance training,” says Jessica Matthews, assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College in San Diego. Strength training also helps keep your bones strong.

Yoga is a great option because it does not require specialized equipment and can be done anywhere. Matthews says her yoga classes are filled with people of all ages and skill levels, and she has seen more older adults embrace the practice in recent years.

“One of the most important things is taking great care to understand what your body needs,” Matthews says. If you have arthritis, limited mobility, or other health issues, she says, there is a modification for almost every yoga pose to accommodate your physical needs.

Whether it’s at a yoga studio or community center or in your home, yoga is a great way to gently build your endurance while also fostering a mind-body connection.

Here are six poses Matthews suggests to get started:

1. Tree Pose

Tree pose helps to improve balance, Matthews says, which can help prevent falls.

  • Stand with your legs together and your arms straight over your head, palms together.
  • Raise your right leg slightly off the ground so that the toes are still on the ground and your heel is touching the inside part of your ankle.
  • Balance for 20 to 30 seconds if possible.
  • Repeat with the other leg. Hold onto something if necessary.

As you gain balance, draw your raised foot upward, resting the sole of your foot on the inside of the lower leg.

Eventually, work toward having your raised leg bent, with the foot resting on the inside of the opposite leg above your knee.

2. Warrior II

Any standing pose helps to improve bone density, Matthews says, while also improving lower body strength. “Not only do you strengthen, you get a stretch through your hips, groin, and inner thighs.”

  • Begin with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms straight at your side.
  • Turn to the right, and step your right foot out wide about 3 to 4 feet while keeping your heels in line. Turn your right foot out to a 90-degree angle.
  • Inhale and raise your arms straight to the sides to shoulder height.
  • As you exhale, bend the right leg until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Your left leg should be straight.
  • Hold pose for up to 30 seconds while concentrating on your breath.

Repeat pose with other leg.

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