A recent study adds to the body of literature that Eastern practices are useful for older adults. A team at Indiana University gave Hatha yoga (a gentle yogic form) lessons to 14 older adults with a history of falls or significant fears of falling.
After 12 weeks of two 1-hour sessions per week, there were significant increases in body flexibility as well as social engagement. There was also a significantly improved self-report of balance, range of motion and overall well-being.
This adds to previous studies of tai chi and strengthening exercises to suggest that strength, flexibility and balance can all be improved throughout the life span, and social engagement and well-being can accompany the known clinical improvements in falls and fractures.
My tai chi teacher’s teacher, Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang, shows some gentle techniques for back pain in this promotional video:
In this video, Dr. Yang (in white) demonstrates his strength, flexibility and balance in a sword routine, photographed in 2007 when he was nearly 61 years old: