Caring Currents

Downward Dog May Keep Elderly Upright

Last updated:

April 30, 2008
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Seniors have long been encouraged to take up yoga for its mind, body, and soul benefits.  Now there's another reason to practice the tree pose position: Recent research indicates that yoga may improve stability and balance in women over age 65, which could help reduce the risk of falling.

That's a welcome finding. As fellow Caring.com blogger Kate Rauch recently reported, falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries and deaths among older adults. Almost a third of all seniors suffer some type of fall each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which can lead to injuries such as a broken hip.

So strategies to avoid falls are in demand. In this latest study, researchers  investigated a style of yoga called Iyengar -- a technique known for its use of props such as belts, blocks, and bolsters. Given this promising news, it's worth looking for an Iyengar yoga class geared toward older adults at the local senior center, community hall, or assisted living residence. Or do a Google search using the term "yoga and seniors," and choose from one of the many DVDs and books designed specifically for the elderly so your parent can practice on her own.

If your parent is already an Iyengar yoga devotee, are there any particular poses she finds helpful for maintaining balance and stability? Chime in, too, if you know of any books, DVDs, or TV programs that you'd recommend for older beginners. 

Image by Flickr user Angela Sevin used under the Creative Commons attribution license.