With its long history, it’s easy to make the argument that yoga has a timeless appeal. The Good Body reports that there’s believed to be about 36 million yoga practitioners just in the United States and some 300 million practitioners around the globe. Are there benefits of yoga for seniors?
The Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
Practicing yoga isn’t about having the right mat or wearing yoga pants. Instead, it is a form of moving meditation that combines periods of relaxation and concentration with carefully controlled movements between age-old poses. If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of yoga for seniors, look for a class that’s designed for beginning seniors. What benefits are you likely to discover?
Better Weight Control
Yoga isn’t the best for burning calories, but it does help build focus and willpower. That can pay off when you want to resist a second helping of sweets. Many people who practice yoga seem to find making healthy choices easier and more rewarding.
Many yoga poses involve weight-bearing activities, which strengthen bones. That means that doing yoga regularly may help reduce your risk of experiencing the thinning bones and osteoporosis that can come with age.
Practicing yoga promotes the relaxation response. Your heart rate slows, breathing gets easier, and your blood pressure may drop.
Many of your joints lack the blood vessels and structures to thrive independently. They depend on movement to pump fluids into their tissues and keep them lubricated and nourished. Yoga does an excellent job of encouraging the type of gentle movements throughout your body that will help to keep your joints fluid and limber.
Falls are a major risk for seniors, so activities that improve your balance and proprioception, or your sense of your position in space, are a smart addition to your routine. With its mix of slow, measured moves and standing poses that are held to build strength, yoga can be an excellent way to gain the skills that you need to reduce your risk of falls.
Yoga is highly adaptive. A skilled instructor can adjust their teachings to meet the needs of students with a wide range of skill levels and physical capabilities. In meeting people where they are, yoga provides personalized care that helps to ease aches and pains. Some of the gentle stretching and meditative deep breathing exercises can be especially helpful for those dealing with chronic pain.
Yoga offers a chance to be active and burn off some energy. It also provides an opportunity to relax and destress. That combination is an excellent recipe for high-quality slumber. Many people find that taking up yoga allows them to enjoy sleeping longer and more soundly.
Whether you favor a runner’s high, a biker’s buzz, or some other kind of exercise euphoria, there is plenty of anecdotal and scientific evidence that working out can bring on a brighter mood. Doing yoga has the same effect. Its blend of moving meditation and deep breathing enhances mood, lowers stress, and reduces anxiety.
Is Yoga Safe for Seniors?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, yoga is generally safe for healthy seniors when it is performed properly under the watchful eye of a qualified instructor. However, there is a risk of injury with any physical activity, so it’s wise to take precautions to limit your risks of being hurt. Practice with a qualified instructor. Choose a class that is appropriate for your skill level. And finally, talk to a yoga instructor and your health care provider about your health conditions and your exercise plans. You may need to modify or avoid certain poses or practices. Good luck!
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