In the second of Sixty and Me’s free Gentle Yoga for Seniors video series, yoga and biodynamic energetics guru Cat Kabira focuses on our neck and shoulders. In the third, our lower backs took their turn. Now, it’s our spines’ time to shine!

Women over 60 who remain upright, balanced and flexible have their healthy spines to thank. But for millions of us, the stresses of day-to-day living have left our spines stiffened — and not in the heroic sense! Fortunately, Cat’s here with some simple, flexibility-restoring spinal poses.

As she puts it, “Some say that what causes us to have the effects of age is simply through the health of the spine. “ Read on to learn more!

Spinal Health Yoga for Seniors: a Decompression Session

Our spines consist of 24 bones, or vertebrae, separated by round, flat discs filled with shock-absorbing jelly. But, as the discs wear down over time, the vertebrae compress.  As their cushioning shrinks, flexing and bending them becomes increasingly painful.

Cat’s solution? She begins this 32-minute workout with spinal breathing. It’s designed to help you find your spine’s most compressed spots. You might even discover one where the vertebra seems AWOL!

Just lie flat on your back and run deep breaths up and down your spine, from your tail bone to the base of your brain. The goal, in Cat’s words, is to help you “begin to visualize the space that can be created through each vertebra.”

Spinal breathing helps prepare for the four poses that follow.

Gentle Yoga for Older Adults: Loving Your Limits

In keeping with her “being kind to yourself” approach to yoga for older women, Cat presents all four exercises with varying degrees of difficulty. But if you encounter one that hurts in every variation, simply skip it!

As always, Cat encourages the use of props as needed. For this workout, she recommends a mat or blanket, a pillow or bolster and a block or book.  Have achy knees? Cushion them with a folded towel.

Bananasana: The Fun Pose with the Funny Name

Talk about a mouthful!Any stretch called Bananasana should be fun, and this one most definitely is. Lie on your back, curve your legs and arms to the left or right like a banana and keep your hips flat on the ground. Bananasana stretches and opens your spine and its supporting side muscles from hip to armpit!

But regardless of which pose you’re practicing, the key to maximizing this video’s benefits is to accept your body exactly as it is each day. Flexibility can be fickle!

What your spine simply refuses to allow in one workout, it may sail through in the next – and vice versa. Just be patient, stick with the program and remember Cat’s advice:

“… Every day, as your body is changing moment to moment… find out what feels good to you. What does your body need right now?”

How have the passing years taken a toll on your spine and its supporting muscles? What changes, if any, have the first three Gentle Yoga for Seniors workouts made in your posture and/or spinal flexibility? If you’re still hesitant to start the program and help your spine move freely again, what’s stopping you? Let us hear from you in the conversation below!

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