Have you heard about the various health benefits of yoga for everyone, especially seniors, and are now wondering if it could be right for you? Millions of Americans over the age of 50 are practicing yoga and reaping the various benefits to their physical and mental health (https://www.yogaalliance.org). Let’s dig into some information that can help you decide whether or not to add a yoga mat to your shopping list.
Yoga – An Ancient Practice
Yoga is a combination of mental, physical, and for some,spiritual, exercises. Originating from India over 5,000 years ago, yoga started out as a practice for religious and meditative use. It has since been adopted world wide in many ways, including as a form of workout to keep the body active (https://www.replenishliving.com). The idea of yoga is to encourage harmony and balance between the body and the mind.
Why do People Practice Yoga?
Yoga is a great practice that can have positive effects on your physical and mental health. Being active and aware in your body and mind can help you reap a wealth of health improvements including increased energy, mobility, and better sleep.
Most people use yoga as an exercise practice to improve their health, while some look at it as a spiritual practice that allows them to reflect and practice self awareness (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). The ability to be present and aware in your body for even a short amount of time can have huge effects on your state of mind and happiness.
More Seniors are Practicing Yoga Than Ever
Yoga isn’t just for young people. More people than ever are joining in the yoga practice. In a recent survey, it was found that 17% of practitioners are over the age of 50, while 21% are 60 and older (https://www.washingtonpost.com). As of 2020, there has been a 300% increase of people over the age of 50 practicing yoga (https://www.thegoodbody.com).
As a form of physical activity that can be easily modified to fit each person’s physical capabilities, this has increasingly become a popular choice for staying active for older adults. Yoga is an activity that can be practiced at home as well, which is great for seniors without reliable transportation or suffering chronic health issues.
Is Yoga Bad for Seniors?
Like any form of physical exercise, there is a risk of injury if you over do it or move something the wrong way. Often these injuries are sustained in classes lead by an instructor who is not experienced teaching older adults. Getting into the right class can make a big difference. It’s good to know the pros and cons before starting a new activity. Here are our pros and cons of senior yoga…
Pros of Senior Yoga
The benefits reaped from practicing yoga are numerous and there is a lot of research to prove it. Yoga helps with many of the most common health problems for elderly individuals. Here are some of the benefits you could experience:
- Improvement on mobility, flexibility, strength, and balance
- Relief from back pain
- Relief from arthritis symptoms
- Improved heart health
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
- Improved sleep
- A connection to a caring community
Cons of Senior Yoga
There are really not that many disadvantages of yoga but here are a few that could be considered:
- Risk of injury
- Difficulty finding the right class or teacher
- Feeling self conscious practicing around other people
How to Get Started
If all of this has convinced you to give yoga a try, your next question might be how to go about getting started. Joining a class with other seniors can be a great way to get started. Be sure to look for an instructor who is knowledgeable and experienced in working with older adults and can take your individual health needs and conditions into account. This will help you avoid injuries related to inappropriate poses. It will also help you to connect with other beginners who can help encourage you to stick with it.If a class is not available near you or doesn’t work for your situation, there are many videos, dvds, and books you can use. Here is a list of beginner poses that are usually recommended to seniors:
- Tree Pose
- Warrior II
- Extended Puppy
- Low Lunge
- Legs Up the Wall (https://www.webmd.com)
Just remember to look for material that is created with older adults specifically in mind to avoid exercises that could cause injury if performed improperly.
All you need to get started is a mat and the right kind of workout clothes. Fitted comfortable clothing works best, especially your top since some of the poses could cause a loose shirt to fall up over your head. Always remember to go slow and listen to your body. Poses should never hurt and you don’t have to keep up with everyone around you (https://www.greatseniorliving.com). If cost is a barrier, be sure to explore community provided support. With these things in mind, enjoy your experience!
Sandyside Senior Living
This information was provided by Sandyside Senior Living in White Lake, Michigan. Sandyside specializes in advanced care for seniors with dementia, Parkinson’s, MS, and all age-related illness.
Interested in learning more about Sandyside Senior Living? Contact Sandyside online, or call at (248) 698-3700.
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