The aging process can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean you have to become inactive! Low-impact exercises are great for keeping your energy up while keeping your joints happy. Over the past decade, yoga and meditation have become particularly popular with seniors for their physical and mental benefits. If you’re looking to join in, here’s how you can get started.
Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
Beginning a new exercise regimen can be daunting, particularly for a senior. The benefits far outweigh the physical commitment, however. As we age, joints stiffen, flexibility diminishes, and chronic health problems may arise. Yoga can help with these issues by increasing muscle elasticity, which improves flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular health. Coupled with meditation, it can help improve sleep, digestion, and blood flow by reducing stress and helping the mind remain active. Regular class attendance also helps develop a community of like-minded friends, which is key to emotional health for people of any age.
Benefits of meditation for seniors
The simple act of meditation also has many benefits. “>Meditation triggers activity in the brain’s hippocampus and frontal lobe, which manage long-term and short-term memory. Regular stimulation helps improve your ability to retain information and retrieve memories from long ago. Deep breathing improves blood pressure, digestion, and your overall mood by enriching your body with oxygen. Finally, meditation helps increase overall activity in the rest of your brain’s regions, even while you aren’t actively meditating. This increases your ability to focus and be creative and helps your overall quality of life. Meditation can be an at-home activity. Try creating a special place for meditating in your home that is calm and relaxing.
Yoga and Meditation for Addiction Recovery
If you are a recovering addict, yoga and meditation may help your recovery process. Pain and isolation are two of the most frequently offered reasons for using drugs. The community that forms in a regular yoga class can help you feel like you belong and are valued. Light exercise like yoga also releases chemicals in the brain that produce positive feelings, replacing the need for drug-induced euphoria. Healthy, active joints are also less likely to have chronic pain. For many people in recovery, having a good relationship with the physical self is just as important as the spiritual one. Mindfulness is a central concept of meditation and helps focus on releasing negative emotions, leading to greater mental health.
Find a Group That’s Right for You
Try looking around your local community center or online for a yoga group geared toward seniors — remember, the community is a major part of the lifestyle. There are many subcategories of yoga, and choosing one that suits your needs is critical to make sure you stay healthy. If you have trouble standing up for long periods of time, there are other options; chair yoga, for example, modifies more challenging poses with a small chair to help balance. Water yoga helps you get all the benefits of yoga with even less joint impact. If you’re looking specifically to supplement your mental health exercises and meditation work, look into Anusara yoga, which focuses on bringing joy into each movement regardless of your level of experience or health.
Ease Into Your Program
While you look, you can ease yourself into a meditative frame of mind with several basic techniques. To improve your posture, try the Mountain Pose. Stand up to your full height as best as you can, with your heels together and hands at your side, then breathe deeply, actively engaging your full body. To get into meditation, start with five to 10 minutes of basic rhythmic deep breathing exercises per day. Once it becomes a habit, it will be all the more effective.
With the help of yoga and meditation, it is possible to age gracefully. Find a class near you that suits your needs and abilities, and help your mind and body become more healthy than ever before.
Picture Credit: Pexel.com
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.