Yoga is an ancient Sanskrit practice that emphasizes connecting the mind and body to the world around it. It’s a way to calm the mind while keeping muscles flexible and the cardiovascular system in top shape. It’s a gentle form of exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Those who are 55 and up can see significant benefits by practicing yoga two or three times each week. With age, muscles begin to stiffen and range of motion wanes. The body becomes more susceptible to disease, and the brain may suffer the consequences of five or more decades of personal health neglect. Yoga can help slow down many of the effects of aging by increasing muscle flexibility and offering seniors the opportunity to relax their entire self.
The benefits of yoga for seniors include:
Seniors who’ve have experienced drug or alcohol addiction may benefit even further from yoga and meditation. The Treehouse Rehab explains that taking control of physical health is one of the first steps in a successful recovery. Self-awareness, one of the main focuses of yoga, can help you or your loved one learn how to focus thoughts and emotions as to best avoid negative behaviors. Substance abuse has a significant impact on the body and mind; yoga can help rebuild those aspects of self that were destroyed.
Where to start
It’s not difficult to find a yoga class, even for an older adult who may have difficulty with other forms of exercise. Currently, there are more than 14 million seniors in the United States that actively participate in yoga programs. If you’re looking for an entry-level class, start with your neighborhood gym. Many senior centers also have a full schedule of activities geared toward the mature members of the community. For inspiration, check out these flexibility in these yoga-loving seniors.
While yoga is typically considered a non-strenuous activity, different styles may be more intense than others. Seniors with limited mobility are encouraged to start off with one of the “gentler” forms of yoga. These include Iyengar, Kripalu and Hatha. According to Vive Health, each of these may be tailored to an individual’s physical abilities and poses modified as such.
In addition to the traditional floor-and-mat yoga, seniors may also wish to consider an adaptive version of the exercise. Seniors who have trouble getting up and down or may wish to include a chair in their poses. Many fitness centers also offer water-based yoga classes, which can be combined with aquarobics for a comprehensive workout that’s gentle on the muscles and joints. The Australian Seniors Insurance Agency explains that water yoga has been adapted for aged participants and may include breathing exercises to relieve aches and pains.
It’s important to note that senior should talk to their doctor before beginning any type of exercise regimen. Yoga is typically considered safe, but it is not without its risk. The Huffington Post explains that the most common injuries associated with yoga involve the shoulders, knees, neck and back. Overexertion and undiagnosed musculoskeletal conditions may also result in herniated discs or torn muscles. Common sense is the key to avoiding injuries.
Yoga, especially for seniors, is a viable alternative to high-impact exercise programs. It can help heal the mind, body, and soul in a safe, healthy and social environment.
The above article is created by a guest blogger:
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.
Rachel is the founder of VAI YOGA and an occupational therapist. Her yoga teaching focuses on blending two powerful healings, yoga and occupational therapy solutions, to help people face practical aspects of life.