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While it may seem counter-intuitive, yoga can be an excellent choice to help seniors improve physically and mentally. This low-impact exercise has the added benefits of mindfulness, relaxation and meditation as well as showing people how to properly do deep breathing.
The Benefits of Yoga
Let’s take a look at some other ways yoga aids seniors and how to get started.
Balance And Mobility
As you age, your balance and mobility can decline, but yoga may be able to change that. According to Advocate Health Care, a recent study suggested that for people over age 60, balance and mobility improved significantly for participants that practiced yoga. The way it strengthens muscles can also help improve your stability, lessening falls.
Strengthens Unused Muscles
Some of your muscles are not used as they were in your youth if you have limited mobility. Yoga can help with strengthening the muscles in your legs, core, shoulders, spine and neck without you having to visit the gym. Learn more at Health Journal.
Yoga Builds Confidence
Aging Care claims that yoga improves your sense of body awareness, which can lead to increased confidence for seniors. Because yoga allows you to make progress through small movements over time, a good yoga teacher can help a senior student progress through the poses. This gives them a sense of achievement as they move forward. They recommend seniors try Anusara yoga because it focuses on aligning the body and can benefit people with physical limitations.
Improves Medical Health
Yoga can help people suffering from arthritis, joint pain, cardiovascular health and Type 2 diabetes. According to this post at Sixty & Me, “Yoga practice can induce short-term improvements in fasting glucose and cholesterol levels. This effect occurs because yoga stimulates the organs, which regulate metabolism.” It’s important to note this happens as part of a regular yoga practice, rather than targeted exercises done alone.
Good For Limited Mobility
Yoga can help people with limited mobility, according to eCaring. Unlike other exercises that benefit your cardiovascular system, yoga is low impact and therefore easy on your joints. You are also at much less risk for injury than many other forms of exercise.
Benefits for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients
Current research shows that while yoga cannot cure these conditions, it may be able to help prevent them and possibly improve symptoms for sufferers. Read more about how yoga and meditation can benefit these problems at Yoga Journal.
Helps In Addiction Recovery
For many people in addiction recovery, having a good relationship with the physical self is just as important as the spiritual one. Yoga and its companion practice of meditation can do just that. While a 12-step or other alternative programs can help you recover from addiction, yoga and meditation can help bring your body, breathing and diet back into balance. For those who find the idea of meditation appealing, you can dedicate an area of your home to the practice with just a few simple modifications. Select a space (or a room) away from the hustle and bustle, declutter it, put in some soft lighting, and purchase some scented candles. With this simple formula, you’ll have a relaxing area that’s ready for meditation.
Before Starting A Yoga Program
Before you start any fitness program, you should discuss it with your doctor. You should also make sure you choose the right yoga practice for your body. As mentioned, Anusara is one possibility. Other good options according to Very Well Fit include:
● Hatha Yoga: For beginners and those who have lost significant muscle tone or have been sedentary for a long time.
● Iyengar Yoga: These use props, which can be helpful when learning poses.
● Viniyoga and Kripalu: These customize the practice to fit the person.
Some places even offer adaptive yoga for those with more physical limitations. Learn about it at the NCHPAD blog.
Yoga is a great exercise that can benefit seniors in a multitude of ways. Talk to your doctor and see if it’s a good fit to get you started moving and in shape again.