Up Against the Wall: Easy Wall Yoga for Seniors
If you have been postponing trying yoga for seniors because you lack the correct equipment, that excuse is about to crumble. Mats, blankets, blocks and straps can make nice additions to yoga practice, but they aren’t strictly necessary. All you need for the following yoga poses is your breath, a willingness to move and a smooth wall. Here are a few easy yoga poses you can do at home.
Begin by finding an open stretch of wall in your home or office. You want about four feet of wall space not covered by furniture, windows, wall hangings or light switches. Remove your shoes and stand with your back to wall. Plant your feet firmly on the floor, toes pointing forward. Permit your buttocks and the back of your shoulders to touch the wall. Bring your feet beneath your hip bones. Use your abdominal muscles to elongate your spine so that your shoulders lift away from your hips without becoming closer to your ears.
Do not try to flatten your back against the wall. For most people, the lower spine naturally curves inward so that while your upper and middle back, as well as your buttocks, touch the wall, your lower back does not. Notice if your outer shoulders touch the wall. Most of us are unaware of how much we hunch forward, rounding our shoulders. This contributes to back pain and tightness in the shoulders. It also tends to constrict our breathing, preventing us from breathing into our upper lungs.
Try to gently widen your collarbones and raise your breastbone so that more of the back of the shoulders moves toward the wall. Let your neck lengthen away from your shoulders so that your head floats toward the ceiling. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
Keep your knees soft, neither deeply bent nor locked. Many of unconsciously tend to lock our knee joints when standing, a habit which can create lower back strain. Using a wall to practice mountain pose can help us become more conscious of how much we tend to slouch or slump. Do not tense yourself against the wall, but permit it to help you remember to use muscular energy to experience the full length of your spine and spaciousness of your lungs.
Now turn and face right so that the right side of your pelvis touches the wall. Extend your right arm behind you so that the inside of your right elbow touches the wall. The right palm will also touch the wall, with your fingers pointing slightly downward. Move in toward the wall until your right shoulder is pulled slightly back by the wall. Let your left arm hang down by your left side. Keep your toes pointing toward the right side of the room.
Without bending your right elbow or bringing your palm away from the wall, slowly slide your right arm upward behind you.
Only move the arm as far as you can without a sense of strain in the elbow joint or wrist. You want to experience a sense of the right shoulder stretching.
Raise your arm as far as you comfortably can, then hold here as you take five deep breaths. Slowly lower your arm. Switch sides and repeat to the left. Then return to mountain pose.
Observe how much more open your shoulders feel. You will probably be able to bring more of the back of your shoulders closer to the wall in mountain pose after this stretch. When you first begin this practice, it may be difficult to raise the arm very far. Daily practice will help reduce chronic tension in the neck and shoulder region, as well as improving your posture.
Triangle Pose Against the Wall
When it comes to yoga for seniors, this is one of my favorite poses! From mountain pose, extend your arms straight outward from your shoulders. Then step your feet wide apart, so that your outer ankles are lined up beneath your wrists. Bend your elbows, bringing your hands to your pelvis. Use your hands to help experience a sense of shifting the hips gently side to side.
Try to move only the pelvis, keeping your feet, as well as your upper body, stationary. This may feel a bit challenging at first. Once you have warmed up a little bit, slide your hips as far to the right as you can while still keeping your buttocks to the wall. At the same time, permit your shoulders to slide to the left and downward. You will feel a stretch in the right side of your waist and lower back, as well as along your left inner thigh.
Extend your arms outward from your shoulders again, but keep the back of your hips and shoulders as tight to the wall as possible. Maintain this position as you take five slow deep breaths. Then on an inhalation, slowly stand upright again, stacking shoulders over hips. Repeat to the opposite side, so that your hips move left and upward while your shoulders slide right and downward. Remember to use the wall as your guideline: moving shoulders or hips off the wall diminishes the stretch.
Have your say! Did you try any of the poses or stretches above? How did you feel doing them? Have you ever tried yoga for seniors? Add your thoughts in the comments section below. Remember to check out our gentle yoga video series that we filmed for you in beautiful Bali.