Yoga is an adaptable exercise, meaning, it can be practiced by people with diverse physical abilities and needs. Most of the time, we see photos of young people practicing yoga but it can also be practiced by older and less flexible people, enjoy it just as much, and benefit from it even more. When people grow older, they become more mature and full of wisdom. However, getting old also means carrying many challenges and one of those is staying physically fit.
Seniors are more at risk of life-threatening illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Also, seniors experience higher rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Their memory can decline and their balance can be impaired and with that, their sense of self can suffer.
These things can be prevented by healthy eating and exercise. However, most seniors can no longer do strenuous exercises but there’s one they can probably enjoy and that is yoga. It can offer them a wide variety of health benefits, especially for seniors who suffer from pain, joint stress, imbalance, osteoarthritis, and other physical limitations. Today, we are giving you a list of the benefits that seniors can get from doing yoga.
Is Yoga Suitable for Seniors?
Before we give you the benefits of yoga to seniors, some of you might be thinking if it is a suitable and safe exercise for seniors. Well, in most cases, seniors can absolutely do yoga. In fact, a lot of people who have busy schedules only find time to do activities like yoga when they retire from work. It is the perfect time to pick up healthy habits that can promote a long life.
Aside from that, yoga is great for seniors because it can also establish a sense of community and friendship with trainers and fellow students. Having social connections like this are also surprisingly important in maintaining health and well-being as people age.
Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
Here are the benefits that seniors can get from doing yoga:
Yoga Can Improve Balance and Stability
A lot of yoga poses focus on balance and stability and both of these are important as you age. When you strengthen your muscles and improve your balance, it can help prevent falling, which is a common concern for the elderly. Aside from that, increase in strength and stability can also help seniors recover faster should a fall occur.
Yoga Can Improve Flexibility and Joint Health
If seniors are looking for a gentle exercise that can increase their flexibility, then yoga is a great option. Yoga is good for those who have achy or stiff joints. The low-impact moves of yoga can help loosen your muscles. Aside from that, it can also tone your supporting muscles and help prevent injury.
Yoga Can Improve Respiration
When people age, there also comes respiratory limitations and reduced tolerance to physical exertion. And anything that reduces oxygen in the respiratory system can cause negative effects on the body and mind. Based on studies, a 12-week yoga program was able to improve respiratory function in elderly women significantly. Since breathing is the foundation of life, it’s a good idea to keep your respiratory system in good shape at any age and yoga can help you with that.
Yoga Can Reduce High Blood Pressure
Hypertension can lead to many other health problems such as cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. According to studies, yoga can help reduce oxidative stress in the elderly which is one of the underlying causes of high blood pressure. It is a strong risk factor for heart attacks, especially for seniors.
Yoga Can Help Lessen Anxiety
Attending yoga classes can help relax your body and mind because they are calm and restorative. When seniors practice yoga regularly, this can help reduce their sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response which can cause inflammation of all kinds and wreak havoc on the mind and body.
When seniors practice yoga, this will teach them to focus on the breath and slow movements. These can help trigger their parasympathetic nervous system and reduce the byproducts of stress and feelings of anxiety.
Yoga Can Boost Mindfulness
Yoga is focused on breathing and paying attention to the body. This is why another benefit that seniors can get from doing yoga is the expanded awareness of self through practice. When you practice yoga, you will learn to become mindful of not just your body but as well as your thoughts and emotions. You will learn to be more connected to and mindful of your environment, community, and the world around you.
Adaptive Yoga for Seniors
Seniors who have very limited mobility can also do yoga through adaptive practices. One example of adaptive yoga is chair yoga. In this yoga practice, all the poses are done with the support of chairs. Another example is water yoga. This is therapeutic for seniors because the body will feel weightless and it can be moved easily underwater. You can try to see if your local YMCA pool offers aqua yoga classes.
Before you practice yoga, keep in mind that the kind of yoga appropriate for you depends on your age, current level of fitness, and physical ability. It is possible to learn yoga from books and videos, but the best way is still through in-person instruction by attending yoga classes. There are yoga studios which hold special senior classes. If you can’t find one, you can also join a gentle beginners’ class.
Before attending a yoga class, it is also important to speak to your doctor first, especially if you are suffering from any chronic conditions or if you are very inactive. If you want to know the things you need to start doing yoga, you can check out our post about the Equipment Needed for Doing Yoga.