Iyengar yoga can help improve stability and balance in women over age 65, which could help to prevent falls, finds a preliminary study out of Temple University’s Gait Study Center.

Researchers at the School of Podiatric Medicine and the College of Health Professions examined the gait and postural stability of 24 elderly females who were enrolled in an Iyengar yoga program specifically designed for those over 65. They found that at the end of the 9-week program, participants had a faster stride, increased flexibility in the lower extremities, improved single-leg stance and increased confidence in walking and balance.

“We were very impressed at the progress our participants made by the end of the program,” said Song. “Subjects demonstrated improved muscle strength in lower extremities, which helps with stability. There was also a pronounced difference in how pressure was distributed on the bottom of the foot, which helps to maintain balance.”

Song and study coauthor Marian Garfinkel, EdD, a certified senior Iyengar Yoga instructor, consulted her mentor, yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar, to craft a specific yoga program of poses tailored to the elderly who have had little to no yoga experience. The use of props in the Iyengar program allows participants to gradually master the poses while building their confidence level.

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