Although growing older presents many benefits including maturity, wisdom, and experience, it can, unfortunately, bring with it numerous challenges. Physically, the body becomes weaker, meaning that muscle injury and nasty falls can become much more apparent. With the additional risk of life-threatening illnesses, it’s not uncommon for seniors to suffer from conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and various types of cancer. With the physical challenges come the mental ones. Anxiety and depression are all too common as we increase in age, sometimes alongside more complex conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease which affects the memory.
Thankfully, yoga can offer a wide variety of health benefits, ideal for improving and maintaining both physical and mental health in individuals of all ages. Older members of society that struggle with joint pain, arthritis, and even general imbalance can benefit hugely from partaking in regular yoga sessions. In this article, we explore the topic in more detail, discussing the benefits of yoga for seniors and a couple of poses ideal for beginners.
With a selection of poses specifically designed to focus on balance and stability, yoga can the ideal form of exercise as you grow older. In addition to improving overall balance, yoga works to strengthen the muscles, preventing the likelihood of nasty falls. Not only does the method work to prevent them from happening, but increased muscle strength aids recovery, should an accident occur.
Many seniors seek gentle exercise, working to maintain flexibility within the body – for this, yoga is ideal. As we grow older, it’s not uncommon for our joints to become stiff and achy; thankfully studies have shown that yoga can be used to manage conditions such as arthritis, loosening the joints and muscles through low-impact stretches. When working on flexibility, it is important to wear the correct yoga clothing. To allow maximum movement, we recommend the Ana Heart Hill Sweatpants.
As we age, respiratory limitations gradually reduce the amount of psychical exertion we are capped of carrying out. Recently, studies have shown that yoga has the potential to significantly improve respiratory function, especially in the elderly. Better function of the respiratory system means that everyday chores can be carried out with ease, without experiencing the uncomfortable nature of feeling short of breath.
The second leading cause of kidney disease, often leading to cardiovascular issues is high blood pressure, commonly experienced within the older generation. With recent studies proving that yoga can reduce oxidative stress in the elderly, it begs the question – why aren’t more people partaking in regular sessions? Strongly reducing the risk of heart attacks, minimising oxidative stress that leads to high blood pressure can be incredibly beneficial to the body. For sufferers of oxidative stress, it can be beneficial to wrap up warm when making your way to and from a yoga session. To do this, having a cozy yoga hoodie can be ideal. For a good-quality, loosely fitted design, we recommend the Ana Heart Kurt Oversized Hoodie.
The calm and restorative nature of a yoga class can do wonders for relaxing the body and mind. With spe-cific classes available for the older generation, seniors can relax and unwind in a supportive environment, surrounded by like-minded individuals with the same intention of bettering their health. Deep breathing techniques learned within yoga sessions can be beneficial in everyday life, too. Ideal for reducing stress and anxiety, certain breathing methods can be carried out at any time or place.
Heavily focussed on deep breathing and listening to your body, another benefit of yoga is the expanded self-awareness the practice can provide. When practiced regularly, yoga has the ability to become benefi-cially on not just the body, but also the mind and soul. Focussing intently on your thoughts and emotions, yoga can enable users to become more connected with their environment, community, and best of all, themselves.
Ideal for increasing strength in the legs are core, Tree Pose is great for seniors looking to improve their balance and concentration. With the option of using a chair or another piece of apparatus as a support, Tree Pose can be carried out with relative ease, tailored to the user’s specific needs and abilities.
To begin, stand tall. Placing one foot on the opposite inner thigh, choose whether to hold it above or below the knee. With the bent leg, open it out to the side. When balanced, bring both hands together into a prayer position. You are in Tree Pose. Focussing on your breathing, hold the posture for five to ten breaths.
Designed to improve balance and grounding through the feet, Mountain Pose can be beneficial with the older generation. Ideal for those who find themselves slouching, the pose encourages better posture for life-long benefits.
To start, stand tall with your heels together. Ensuring that your big toes are touching, breath in gently, drawing your abdominals in and up. Finally, relax the shoulders. You are in Mountain Pose. Taking care to engage the leg muscles, hold the posture for 5 to ten breaths.
Perfect for improving joint health, flexibility and all-over body strength, Downward Facing Dog is renowned for its benefits. While this pose can be great for seniors, for individuals suffering from wrist issues, it can be sensible to perform Forearm Downward Dog, instead.
To begin, place your hands on your knees. Next, carefully lift your hips up and backward until your body forms a triangle. Using your core strength and leg muscles, shift your weight back as much as possible. You are in Downward Facing Dog. Focussing on your breathing, hold the pose for a couple of seconds before repeating the posture two more times.
Beneficially for back support and abdominal strength, the Bird Dog pose focusses on the health of the spine. Important as we age, the strength of our spine effects movement through day-to-day life.
To start, kneel on the floor. Stretch one arm forward while the opposite leg goes back. Sometimes, it can be helpful to imagine you have a cup of tea on your back, taking care not to spill the hot beverage as you draw your belly button towards your spine – this can help to keep the back straight. You are in Bird Dog. Hold the posture for a couple of seconds before switching sides. Repeat the pose five times for best results.
Whether you’re hoping to relieve discomfort caused by stiff joints, or you’re interested in building a social circle with likeminded individuals, yoga classes geared towards older individuals are widely available throughout the US. Before attending a session, remember to prepare with the correct yoga gear. For older citizens, a comfortable mat is often most important, allowing you to move from pose to pose with ease, preventing unnecessary injury. For a good-quality, durable yoga mat, we recommend the Ana Heart Empowering Yoga Mat.