Yoga for Older Adults -Hypothesis and Tools for Yoga Teachers
Neela K Patel1* and Sreedhara Akkihebbalu2
1Department of Family & Community Medicine, Joe & Teresa Long School of Medicine, USA
2President, Kaveri Natya Yoga, USA
Submission: February 12, 2018; Published: March 14, 2018
*Corresponding author: Neela K Patel, Associate Professor & Chief Division of Geriatrics & Palliative Care, Department of Family & Community Medicine, Joe & Teresa Long School of Medicine, UT Health San Antonio, USA, Email: PATELN4@uthscsa.edu
How to cite this article: Neela K P, Sreedhara A. Yoga for Older Adults -Hypothesis and Tools for Yoga Teachers. J Yoga & Physio. 2018; 4(2): 555632. DOI: 10.19080/JYP.2018.04.555632.
As adults age, changes in their lives and bodies may impair their ability to move effectively and safely . The effects of chronic health conditions and geriatric syndromes may limit mobility and increase their dependence on others to assist them in activities of daily living (ADL’s) . Although strong evidence indicates that physical activity can prevent impairment and maintain function and health related quality of life [2,3], only 10 percent of Americans between 65-74 years report engaging in activities that promote strength and endurance two or more days/week [3,4].
Decreased physical capacity (e.g., muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, agility, and balance) leads to impairment in functional tasks (e.g., standing up from a seated position) that may lead to difficulties in maintaining personal and social roles [5,6]. Because quality of life in later years depends largely on the ability to independently engage in self-selected activities , physicians must encourage older patients to actively participate in physical activities.
Many older adults refrain from participating in evidence- based programs for physical activity (e.g., “Active Start”, “Enhance Fitness”) . Some elders report that exercise programs are designed for more functionally able persons. Another potential barrier is that many exercise programs are based on “one size fits all” approach . Resnick suggests interventions for older adults could improve regular exercise by establishing goals tailored to function and physical level .
The National Institute on Aging recommends four different types of exercises for older adults: endurance, balance, strengthening, and flexibility [9,10]. Because yoga involves each of these recommended components of exercise it may improve functional and physiological outcomes. In our recent systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials of yoga in older adults  we found yoga’s benefits varied due to many small trials of mixed quality and limited exploration of physiological mechanisms. Thus, researchers must determine the extent to which yoga is effective across a range of outcomes for older adults. Understanding yoga’s benefits and mechanisms, how they differ in older adults, and how they can be tailored to individual needs are important next steps in developing effective yoga interventions [11,12].
As adults age, they may experience specific physical changes that limit their ability to practice yoga. Thinking of how different parts of an older student’s body may change can help yoga teachers adapt their instruction in particular ways that allow the student to continue in their yoga classes. For each part of the body and its possible physical change, Table 2 suggests specific ways to address the change.
Yoga for older adults needs to be tailored to the invidividual and in a class you may have individuals with varying needs and abilities. The Table 3 above is a sample sequence of poses with tips for adaptations to various individual abilities.