With seniority comes a slower pace, but it also brings about unexplained aches and pains.
This may leave you on the lookout for new and improved ways to keep your body at its best.
The truth is, there’s no need to search for the next new health gadget or fad when there are tried-and-true methods to keep your body and mind sharp.
Yoga and meditation are both low-impact activities that provide a plethora of benefits, making them ideal for seniors. Whether you are an older adult or a caregiver to an aging loved one, these tips will help you get started.
The Benefits are Plentiful
You’ve seen people doing various yoga poses before, and chances are, they look super relaxed, but they are actually engaging in a healing physical activity. Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise that uses movement, minus the strain that can occur when you take on intense exercises such as running or weight-lifting. According to yoga teacher Norlyk Smith, “Yoga does offer strength training because you use the weight of your own body in many of the postures.” Fortunately, you are less likely to be injured since you aren’t juggling other weight. The various postures also improve your range of motion – something that often declines as we age, putting you at a higher risk of trips and falls.
Our minds often become a little fuzzy as the years tick by, but meditation can improve memory and focus by stimulating the portion of the brain responsible for retention and memory. Plus, taking a moment to stop and reflect can lower anxiety and depression as you focus on the moment.
Recruit a Yoga Buddy
Trying something new can be intimidating. If you’re hesitant about giving yoga try, call in a friend to join you for support. No friends available? No problem – man’s best friend could be your perfect yoga partner. Doga is a popular new trend among yogis, and classes are popping up for people and their pooches all across the country (often, for free). You can also find yoga classes for the entire family so feel free to recruit the grandkids for an afternoon of yoga followed up by a visit to the nearest playground.
Getting Started with Yoga
Yoga is a very safe activity for seniors, but if you’ve never done it before, you run the risk of injury. It is best to learn the proper poses via an instructor who can walk you through the moves and assist when necessary. Most yoga studios offer beginner classes, as well as specific yoga classes that are slower-paced and focus on breathing and gentle movements. These classes include Hatha, which is perfect for those learning the basics, and Viniyoga and Kripalu, which adjust the movements to your needs and abilities.
If your mobility is limited, you can still practice yoga; it will just require a bit of adaptation. Iyengar yoga uses props for support, and there is also chair and water yoga. If you are looking for a way to trigger your natural relaxation response but don’t have time to make it to a class, perform gentle stretches using a chair in the comfort of your home. This is a great way to start and end the day, and it can be done any time you need to take a moment to relieve built-up tension.
You don’t have to become a professional yogi to reap the rewards. Even with an encumbered range of motion, easy stretching exercises can provide the same benefits, such as muscle relaxation and stress relief. These are also a wonderful way to acclimate your body to new movements before you begin taking classes.
Basics recommends these local yoga classes:
Getting Started with Meditation
Meditation is so much more than closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths, and when done correctly, it can be an extremely therapeutic experience. There are various types of meditation, such as muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and releasing the muscles in your arms, legs, fingers, toes, etc. Guided imagery is likely the form of meditation you are most familiar with, and it requires that you focus on your breathing while you picture your happy place, such as listening to the waves crash on the beach or a babbling brook at the base of a snowy mountain peak. There are plenty of videos online that provide the imagery for you and walk you through the meditation process. Yoga is a form of meditation as well since you are focusing on your breathing and staying in the present moment, and many classes incorporate meditation.
Seniors need to keep their brains and minds active, and yoga and meditation can help. With benefits that include improved flexibility and stress relief, they are both activities worth exploring. Check out a class at the local yoga studio or give a guided imagery video a try, and you’ll be well on your way to a sound body and mind.
Article submitted by Karen Weeks of ElderWellness.net. Karen believes nothing is off-limits to seniors, and created her website after retirement to help spread the word!