Did you know that the physical benefits of yoga may reduce the risk of falling?
I have been teaching modified yoga poses as exercise and witnessing improved balance, increased confidence and reduced falls in my patients for years.
I was literally stunned at how her body and brain responded to the yoga poses as exercises for improving her standing balance, alignment and posture after the stroke.
And I will never forget the look on her face when she finally walked around her kitchen for the first time without her cane.
We both cried tears of joy.
I am so happy that researchers are publishing preliminary studies to prove that yoga is effective for both men and women! I am sharing links in this blog to three pilot studies that paint a very positive picture for older adults who want to practice modified yoga poses to reduce fall risk and improve balance.
- One pilot study found that an eight-week adapted yoga program improved postural control, mobility and walking speed for a group of community-living older adults.
- A second pilot study found that older adults living in a retirement community who practiced yoga for 12 weeks improved their balance and reduced their feelings of fear of falling.
- A third pilot study showed that older adults in a retirement community who practiced adapted yoga for 3 months experienced better balance and improved balance confidence.
I hope that future research studies investigating the benefits of yoga for improved balance in older adults offer stronger conclusions based on larger sample sizes with a more intensive research study design. Additionally, I am interested to read the exact yoga poses with modifications, and the yoga sequences that were investigated during the research study, so that I am able to reproduce the evidence-based yoga practice to reduce falls and their devastating consequences in our community.
The very first yoga practice that I teach to all of my patients and physical therapy colleagues, is the relaxation breathing. The relaxation breathing technique is one of the mindful breathing strategies that my patients and I have found to be of tremendous benefit in stabilizing our respective nervous systems and optimizing our recovery. I will share a link to a YouTube video on Relaxation Breathing in a future blog post.
I now recommend yoga only for the physical benefits and not as a spiritual practice as it was originally intended.
Gratitude to my Parent and Teacher:
Thank you to my beautiful mother for posing as a photo model for the adapted yoga poses. She is demonstrating Extended Side Angle pose and Warrior II supported by a chair. Mom, thank you for giving me the gift of life. I would be nothing without you.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
-Exodus 10:12 (NIV)
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.