Yoga for seniors and Medicare eligibles is an effective way to improve your mental and physical wellness. When some people think of yoga, they may picture complex poses with intricate twists. That image of an unattainable exercise may make the ancient practice seem intimidating.
However, yoga doesn’t have to be intimidating or unattainable. Yoga has many health benefits, and it can even be included in certain Medicare plans.
Health Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
Yoga combines physical movements, breathing, and meditation into one exercise. If you struggle with joint pain, balance issues, body stiffness, sleep issues, stress, or anxiety, yoga may be able to help! The health benefits of yoga for seniors and Medicare eligibles are as follows:
Balance and Stability
As you age, your risk of falling increases. Yoga focuses on slow and measured movements and the strengthening of your muscles. These exercises can help keep you upright and strong to avoid tripping or falling. Your focus, strength, and body alignment can all improve with yoga and increase your balance and stability.
At any age, stretching is important. Simple tasks, like tying your shoes, can quickly become difficult without proper daily stretching. Yoga allows you to increase your flexibility through each exercise.
Respiratory limitations can be developed when our oxygen level begins to deplete. Studies have shown that after twelve weeks of yoga, many seniors and Medicare eligibles have seen significant respiratory improvement. Plus, the deep breathing exercises that encompass basic yoga sequences and poses can improve overall lung function in a low-impact environment.
Stress and Anxiety
Yoga for seniors and Medicare beneficiaries can help reduce stress and promotes mental clarity. Yoga is so much more than just “stretching.” It is a practice that requires both the mind and body. Meditation and relaxation are heavily incorporated. These exercises can help you be more mindful and aware of the present moment in time.
Yoga for Obese Seniors
According to the Mayo Clinic, yoga may be a “useful addition to an overall weight-loss plan.” You may not burn as many calories with yoga as you do with aerobic exercise, but it can help improve your self-esteem and overall mood.
Obesity can put excess stress on your joints, and yoga may be a safe form of exercise that may not cause additional pain.
Beginning Yoga for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles
Yoga doesn’t have to be intimidating. There are gentle yoga poses for seniors and Medicare eligibles and some poses incorporate chairs to help aid any balance or stability issues.
Gentle Yoga Poses for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles
Simple yoga for seniors and Medicare eligibles is generally low-impact and great for beginners. There are numerous gentle yoga poses for seniors and Medicare eligibles that are available, but the most popular are as follows:
Seated Forward Bend: Sit on the floor and keep your legs straight in front of you. Inhale and lean forward as far as you can. To avoid potential injuries, never force or push your body. This pose can calm the brain and help relieve stress. It stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings and stimulates your liver and kidneys.
Legs Up The Wall: Find a sturdy wall and bring your tailbone as close as possible and raise your legs. Stay in this position for 10-15 minutes and focus on your breathing. This pose reduces gravity on your body and helps calm the nervous system.
Easy Pose: This yoga pose has been depicted as far as 2,000 years ago. Keep your back straight and cross your legs. This pose is great for meditation and breathing exercises. This pose comes naturally to children, but as you age, it may become more difficult. With practice, you can open your hips and help your spine return to proper alignment.
Corpse Pose: Lie flat on your back with your feet spread shoulder-width apart. Have your palms facing upwards. This pose is usually done at the end of your yoga practice and is more than just laying down. It relaxes your whole body and can release any stress, fatigue, or tension you may have.
Chair Yoga Poses for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles
If the balancing aspect of yoga intimidates you – good news, a chair can help! Many yoga poses can be modified to incorporate a chair. There are still significant benefits to this type of yoga, and it is very popular among people who have balancing issues. The following are chair yoga poses for seniors and Medicare eligibles:
Forward Fold: Sit in a chair and bend forward. When you inhale, raise your arms over your head and reach as far as possible. This yoga pose stretches your hips, hamstrings, and calves. This pose calms the brain and relieves stress. Plus, it stimulates your livers and kidneys and improves digestion.
Spinal Twist: When you are sitting on a chair, reach back as far as you can and twist your torso. It’s important to keep a good posture while twisting. This can lengthen, relax, and align your spine. Plus, it stretches your entire upper body. This can prevent your spine from becoming stiff and can help you maintain a normal spinal rotation.
Pigeon: The normal Pigeon pose can be quite difficult for seniors to do, so a chair can help tremendously! Sit up straight in your chair and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your right or left leg onto the other knee. Push the knee downward, and if possible, pull your foot up slightly. Repeat this 3-5 times and then switch to the other leg. Pigeon pose helps open your hip joints and helps lengthen your hip flexors. It can also help prevent or relieve sciatica pain.
Cat and Cow: Keep your feet flat on the floor and keep your back straight. When you inhale, arch your spine and roll your shoulders back. When you exhale, arch your spine the other way and drop your chin to your chest. This is great for breathing exercises. This stretches the lungs and chest, which makes breathing easier. This also stretches the hips, back, and abdomen.
Chest Expansion: Sit as straight as possible and reach your hands to the back of your chair. Lift your chest and take a deep breath. Do this for 3-5 breaths and then repeat. This strengthens your hand, arm, shoulder, and back muscles.
For more yoga poses for seniors, check out this video “Yoga for Seniors” by Yoga With Adriene:
Does Medicare Cover Yoga?
Original Medicare does not cover yoga or any other fitness classes. However, certain private insurance plans called Medicare Advantage cover the same benefits as Original Medicare (Part A and B) and can cover additional benefits such as vision, dental, and hearing coverage along with coverage for fitness classes.
These plans are growing in popularity. According to the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation, enrollment has tripled to 19 million beneficiaries since 2003.
SilverSneakers ® Yoga Classes
Medicare SilverSneakers® is a fitness benefit found in many Medicare Advantage plans. SilverSneakers® hosts fitness programs for seniors that focus on general fitness, strength, flexibility, and walking ability for seniors and Medicare eligibles just like you. Medicare SilverSneakers® fitness events can also help seniors find new friends who also want to pursue an active lifestyle.
SilverSneakers® yoga classes provide a unique opportunity for seniors and Medicare eligibles to practice yoga in a judgment-free, inclusive group. These classes often incorporate chair yoga poses for seniors and Medicare eligibles.
More than 65% of leading Medicare Advantage plans include Medicare SilverSneakers.® This is generally provided at no cost.
Plus, there are over 11,000 locations across the US that offer SilverSneakers® yoga classes. Once you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes SilverSneakers® yoga, you will have access to any participating facility.
How to Find SilverSneakers ® Yoga Classes Near You
The SilverSneakers® website has a location finder so you can find participating gyms with classes near you. To get started, click here. You’ll come to the SilverSneakers® homepage, which looks like this. Click on the magnifying glass with the word “Locations” under it.
That will lead you to the location finder tool. Enter your zip code in the search bar as shown in red. We chose 37209, which is the zip code for our corporate offices in Nashville, TN. Then click the carrot shown in green. After you do that, select SilverSneakers® as shown in blue. The final part of this step is clicking the magnifying glass shown in yellow.
The next page lists the SilverSneakers® partners in your area. Clicking the listed gym names will show you the amenities at each location. We only clicked on the first location for demonstration purposes.
Here, you can see that the Gordon Jewish Community Center offers SilverSneakers® yoga classes in red. Use the contact information shown in blue to learn how to get started.
Enroll in Medicare Advantage
If SilverSneakers® yoga is something you’re interested in, then you should consider enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan.
If you interested in enrolling in the best MA plan for your needs and budget, fill out this form or call us at 833-438-3676 to speak with a licensed agent. These appointments are no-cost to you and obligation-free. Our licensed agents can answer any questions you may have, and best of all, make sure you get SilverSneakers® yoga.
This post was originally published on October 25, 2018, by Kelsey Davis and was updated on November 18, 2019, by Troy Frink.