Getting older presents many gifts much like maturity, grace, wisdom, experience, and perspective, to name just a few. Growing older can also carry many challenges for some people.
Physically, it becomes harder to keep extra weight off your body. According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, it is found that over one-third of adults 65 and older are obese.
Yoga can, in fact, be suitable for adults of all ages, especially seniors. Studies show that yoga can be extremely helpful when it comes to fighting stress, fatigue, and strain. Some yoga poses can increase your core strength and your balance, which can reduce the risk of falling-related injuries. Other poses can alleviate some senior-related health issues such as menopause. Above all, yoga is a form of exercise that can help seniors feel much younger.
Even though you may never be able to bend yourself into a pretzel, you can learn some simple yoga poses that can increase your overall quality of life. If you’re just starting out with yoga, you should look for a beginning class taught by a certified yoga instructor. Good instructors can help you attain the right body positioning and encourage you to learn your body’s limits. You may not be able to reach all the poses shown or hold them for a long time, but good teachers understand that and encourage you to do your best. Yoga books and DVDs are other tools that can help you reap the benefits of yoga.
The risk of life-threatening illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer also increases with age. Joint stress, osteoarthritis, and other forms of pain will also commonly show as you age.
Psychologically and emotionally, elderly may experience increased rates of minor depression, acute anxiety, and possibly other mental health disorders. Memory can sometimes decline, your balance might be impaired, and with that, a person’s sense of self can suffer.
Not to mention the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease which can alter the ability to form and have relationships and to function in the world this doubles almost every five years after age 65.
With these statistics, the topic of aging can often render fear as birthdays pile up and you become eligible for social security benefits. There is good news, and that is, there are many things you can do to increase your overall health and well-being as a senior.
Eating healthy and exercising can help aide in preventing disease, injury, and keep your physical body in excellent shape, and by using meditation and brain training exercises can keep your mind sharp.
Yoga, especially restorative yoga, can also offer a wide array of health benefits—working physical and psychological wonders. Seniors, who often struggle with pain, joint stress, imbalance, osteoarthritis, and other physical limitations, can benefit from incorporating a yoga practice into their daily routine.
Here are just six of the many advantages of a daily yoga practice for seniors.
Yoga Helps Improves Your Balance and Stability
Many yoga poses focus on balance and stability, both incredibly important as you age. Strengthening your muscles and improving your balance prevents the likelihood of falls, which can be a common concern for elderly.
Not only does it prevent them in the first place, but an increase in strength and stability also helps seniors bounce back and recover, should a fall occur.
Yoga Improves Your Flexibility and Your Joint Health
If you’re looking for a gentle exercise that increases flexibility, yoga is a great option. Flexibility exercises such as yoga are great if your joints tend to be achy or stiff. In a study that looked at the effectiveness of yoga as an exercise to manage osteoarthritis in senior women, researchers found that it provided therapeutic benefits.
Not only can these low-impact moves loosen your muscles, but they can also tone your supporting muscles and help prevent injury.
Yoga May Contribute to Improving Your Respiration
With aging comes some respiratory limitations and reduced tolerance to physical exertion. Anything that reduces oxygen in the respiratory system can have adverse effects on your mind and your body. Recent studies have shown that practicing in a 12-week yoga program can significantly improve your respiratory function in many senior women.
Breathing is the foundation of life for humans. People can go many weeks without food, but you can’t go more than just a few minutes without breathing, so it is a good idea to keep your respiratory system in excellent shape at any age in your life.
Yoga Helps Reduces High Blood Pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, might lead to cardiovascular disease and is this is known to be the second leading cause of kidney disease. Recent studies have found that yoga reduces oxidative stress in the elderly. Oxidative stress is considered to be one of the underlying causes of high blood pressure and, in particular, for seniors citizens, it is a strong risk factor for heart attacks.
Yoga Helps Reduces Your Anxiety
Yoga classes are restorative, relaxing and calm to your body and mind, especially those geared toward elderly. When you practice regularly, yoga can reduce your sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response, which can cause inflammation of all kinds and wreak havoc on your mind and body.
Yoga practice involves focusing on the breath you take in and slow movements through your body, which can generally help you trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, reducing the byproducts of stress and feelings of anxiety.
Yoga Encourages Mindfulness
Since so much of yoga is so focused on just breathing and listening to your body respond, an added benefit is the expanded awareness of Self through practice.
As you start to practice yoga and start to become more mindful of not just your body, but also of your thoughts and emotions, you will be made more connected to and aware of your environment, your community, and the world around you.