When we think about yoga, the first image that comes to mind is a young woman posing effortlessly on a mountain top. This can intimidate a lot of people from trying it out, as they think they won’t be flexible enough to reach each pose.
However, this form of exercise can be practiced by anyone and everyone, be it a person suffering from joint pain, osteoporosis, or even limited mobility. Due to its low impact nature, yoga asanas (positions) can also be readily adapted to meet your comfort level and physical capabilities, making it an excellent exercise for older people.
Brad Schaeffer of MedComp Sciences lists several benefits an older person can expect by starting yoga and why this practice isn’t limited to younger folks.
Improved Mental Health
Yoga has been found to have a positive impact on the overall wellness of senior citizens. Many studies show that seniors who practice yoga are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. This is because the combination of movement, breathing, and meditation in yoga can enhance one’s mood and bring clarity.
A Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep disturbances are common among seniors, especially those who have experienced the recent loss of a friend or family member.
However, by focusing on the present and practicing mindful breathing, yoga encourages people to find peace within themselves and their surroundings. Following this practice helps to reduce stress hormones, cortisol levels and takes care of anxiety symptoms, which lead to racing thoughts at night.
Enhanced Bone Strength
Old age can be harsh on our bodies, particularly the bones; they tend to become more brittle over time. This is why many older adults suffer from fractures or bad breaks, even over small falls.
However, yoga can improve bone density, particularly in women, and reduce the chances of osteoporosis. Following a routine with weight-bearing postures is a good way to strengthen the bones and build resistance to hazardous falls.
Healthy Alternative to Intense Exercise
Staying active is critical for seniors to fight off diseases and debilitating conditions. But some seniors can’t run, jog, or lift weights because the activity is too intense for them.
Yoga is the best alternative. With flexible poses, exercise is completely customizable and tailored to a senior’s body and conditions.
But what if you hate breaking a sweat?
We get it. Everybody struggles to find the motivation to work out. However, those that particularly despise working out can turn to yoga for a non-demanding exercise.
Increased Connectivity to Self and Others
The older we get, the more likely we are to fall out of contact with lifeline friends. As a result, many seniors find themselves struggling socially, particularly if they’re living in assisted living facilities.
Through weekly classes, yoga offers everyone the opportunity to expand their social network and be part of a group. The studio becomes a communal space where people can come to relax and learn from each other’s techniques. It helps some seniors forget their concerns and feel connected to something outside their struggles.
However, yoga also places emphasis on connectivity with the self and increasing awareness. By bringing attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behavior in your practice, you’re encouraged to reflect and see adversity in a new way.
After a session, a senior who’s struggling with socializing might realize they’re not so lonely after all.
Hobby Enjoyed with Loved Ones
Yoga provides an excellent opportunity for a senior and loved ones to bond and enjoy a new hobby together. Rather than sitting inside, yoga encourages families to shake things up and experience something new. One session has the potential to change an entire family’s perception of yoga – it could become a weekly activity that everyone looks forward to.
In addition, family yoga can make older members feel like included and valued as an important member of your family.
If enrolling in a group class at a studio isn’t possible, you don’t have to miss out – you can find a tutorial on YouTube. A senior can enjoy a 5-10 minute practice or even an hour-long session in their own living room. All they need is the right attire, a mat, and water to enjoy yoga from their home – no other expenses required.
Virtual tutorials can’t provide in-person feedback and coaching, but it does give seniors full control over which poses they practice that day and how long they exercise.
Try Yoga Today
The image of a young yoga teacher might linger in a senior’s mind and discourage them from enrolling in a class. However, this fulfilling, energetic, and stimulating activity brings rewards to older people who take a chance and decide to try it out.
Yoga has not only physical and mental health benefits but is also flexible and affordable for all seniors. Why not begin with a 5-10 minute session and see if the benefits are worth it?