So, you think yoga is only for the young and flexible among us? Think again. The benefits of yoga for older adults are becoming more well known among seniors looking to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
In fact, yoga might be the perfect discipline for aging adults. Why? Elements of the discipline are exactly what many active seniors are looking for in a wellness routine, benefiting the body, mind and spirit. Yoga is shown to be a great way to stay active and lower stress levels, and many of its low-impact poses and breathing techniques work well for seniors. Coupled with a healthy diet and a proper exercise routine, yoga is also shown to help those suffering from asthma, addiction, depression, obesity and hypertension, according to the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA). The key is finding the right yoga class that is geared for seniors and meeting their needs.
Let's take a deeper look into yoga for the elderly, and the advantages of adding it to your daily routine.
First, What Exactly is Yoga Anyway?
Though the definition has expanded over the years and often considered as part of a workout routine, yoga at its basics is a discipline with Hindu roots that uses breath control, simple meditation and the adoption of specific bodily postures to achieve health benefits and relaxation. The ICAA notes the continuous practice of yoga helps build focus and concentration, brings practitioners to the present moment, and allows individuals to reconnect with their true nature – joyful, kind, content and compassionate.
Yoga Can Reduce High Blood Pressure.
We won't go as far as to say that yoga will reverse cardiovascular disease, but recent studies by the NCBI show that yoga has been found to control hypertension in the elderly by reducing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is one of the causes of high blood pressure, and often a strong fisk factor for heart attacks. The studies showed that in three months of practicing yoga, seniors were able to reduce oxidative stress and improve their antioxidant defense.
Yoga Reduces Anxiety.
This is kind of yoga's "bag," really. Relaxation of the body and mind is a key element of yoga, especially classes geared for seniors. Practicing yoga can help reduce stress and feelings of anxiety by focusing on breath and slow movements. Those who practice yoga seek to achieve tranquility of the mind and create a sense of well-being, feelings of relaxation and improved self-confidence.
Yoga Can Improve Respiration.
Aging produces several respiratory limitations and reduces tolerance to physical efforts, sometimes leading to pulmonary diseases in the elderly. A yoga practice for seniors that focuses on breathing can lead to a significant improvement in quality of life by improving respiratory function. Think about how important breathing is; keeping respiratory function high is essential at any age.
Yoga Improves Bone Health, Flexibility and Joint Health.
Gentle yoga is safe for those with osteoporosis, and can be effective in preventing and slowing bone density. According to NCBI, seniors who practiced yoga regularly showed no bone loss during bone scans, and some even gained bone. Those who didn't practice yoga were shown to lose bone.
Yoga is a flexibility exercise that is great for those who experience joint pain or osteoarthritis, a common problem in older women. A weekly yoga program was found to be safe and helpful for women with knee osteoarthritis, showing numerous therapeutic benefits.
Yoga can keep the mind sharp and focused.
Exercising the mind is just as important as exercising the body, especially in seniors. The simple meditation that yoga practices helps individuals stay centered, energized and relieve stress. It's even shown to improve moods. By focusing on your thoughts and feelings in addition to your body, you'll achieve a more overall awareness of self through the practice. Yoga is also shown to help fight feelings of depression, which is very common among seniors.
As you've read, yoga can work physical and psychological wonders for the aging population. By incorporating a regular yoga routine, seniors can experience an improvement in their quality of life that can go a long way toward physical and mental health and overall wellness.
Regular yoga and other fitness classes are is available at many Acts communities! Read more about how the Acts Lifestyle can help you achieve a healthy and fulfilling retirement.