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Yoga Class for Older Adults Can Help Prevent Falls

Build Flexibility and Strengthen Muscles to Improve Balance

Do you feel a little unsteady on your feet? Worried about falling? If so, you are not alone. Falls can lead to significant injuries and even death in older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Washington Hospital is offering a class that can help build your strength and flexibility so you can improve your balance and stay on your feet.

“The class will teach safe standing, walking, bending and reaching to prevent falls,” said Laura Constantine, RN, coordinator of the Washington Women’s Center. “Participants who took the class when we offered it before, have asked us to bring it back because it was so valuable. It is designed for older adults who can walk on their own or with an assistive device, like a cane or walker.”

The next new session of Ageless Therapeutic Yoga will begin on April 18 and will be held every Monday from 12 to 1 p.m. for six weeks. Subsequent classes are scheduled for April 25 and May 2, 9, 16 and 23. The class will take place in the Washington Women’s Center conference room, Suite 145, located at 2500 Mowry Ave. (Washington West) in Fremont. The class costs $60 for six sessions and registration is required by calling 510.608.1301.

The class is taught by a certified yoga instructor. In the first session, she will help participants assess their risk for falling. She will ask questions to determine the risk, including:

  • Have you had a slip or fall in the last year?
  • Have you stopped doing some daily activities because you are afraid of falling?
  • Do you feel your muscles are weaker?
  • Is it hard to get up from a chair?
  • Do you have trouble walking or feel unsteady on your feet?

“If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then this class is for you,” Constantine said. “It is perfect for older adults who may not be feeling as stable as they maybe did before. As we get older, sometimes we become more unsteady on our feet for a number of reasons.”

Off the Floor

All of the poses and exercises participants will learn are performed while standing or while sitting in a chair. During the first session, the yoga instructor will help participants determine their muscle strength, balance and gait, and flexibility. These key areas are important for preventing falls, Constantine said.

“You need to have the strength in your thigh muscles to get up from a chair without falling,” she added. “If your upper body is strong, you can better balance yourself. Balance keeps you on your feet, and flexibility allows you to move easily so you can avoid a fall. So when you bend down to get into a car, get up from the couch, or try to step around the cat, you have the strength, balance and flexibility you need.”

Many of the exercises will focus on building strength in the core and extremities. Others will help to increase flexibility through stretches and poses. The class will also help participants become more aware of their body movements so they can have more control over them, Constantine explained.

Much of the benefit comes from simply moving your body, she added.

“Continuing to move as you age is critical,” she said. “The old saying ‘use it or lose it’ is true. If you don’t continue to move your body, it becomes stiff and inflexible. It becomes harder to move and turn your body. You lose agility, which increases your risk of falling. This class will get you moving again.”

For more information about programs and services offered at the Washington Women’s Center, visit