Older people and yoga
“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called “All the Things That Could Go Wrong.” – Marianne Williamson
Beginning a yoga practice as an older adult can be intimidating, especially if you’re out of shape or working with health conditions. Although you need to pace yourself and learn the basics of a restorative programme with an experienced teacher, starting a gentle practice for beginners can be an excellent way to stay active and lower stress levels. Yoga can have a number of benefits for people over a certain age, from healthy bones to flexibility to anxiety relief. Many holistic practitioners and yogis see yoga as a way to maintain a positive attitude, relieve stress and age gracefully.
Yoga is not only safe for older practitioners, but also effective in keeping the mind and body in good health. If you’re thinking about starting a yoga practice, make sure to find a class and instructor who can meet your needs.
People can either find an individual teacher to work with when they first start out, or find a Yoga Centre that works with beginner classes, restorative style classes or specifically tailored sessions that can be chair based.
Starting Yoga may come more easily to you if you’ve been fairly physically active through your life, but if you’re out of shape, or limited by age, inexperience or injury, a sympathetic and experienced teacher can make Yoga accessible to you. Those new to Yoga should also remember that they can opt out of anything that doesn’t feel good or just take a rest during more challenging postures. The great thing about Yoga is that it’s not competitive, in fact practitioners are actively encouraged to be kind to themselves. Yoga literally means “Union”, often interpreted as union (or linking) our movement to the breath. We therefore have an inbuilt safety mechanism – if we can’t breathe, we’re likely to need to gently correct ourselves into a place of ease and comfort!
There’s a lot to learn, and often we have to be patient to get results from our Yoga practice.
1. You Get The Benefits Of Movement – Without The Strain.
Exercise is a crucial part of healthy aging, but high-intensity cardio or strength training can also put strain on the body. According to US stress expert Dr. Kathleen Hall, regular exercise reduces the risk of early death by a third and the cuts the risk of chronic disease by 40 percent. Yoga can be an excellent low-impact exercise options that’s easier on the body than many other types of exercise.
Yoga helps people integrate an exercise program into their routine without some of the downfalls that you can easily come across in different training systems. And Yoga doesn’t just offer increased flexibility, it also provides strength training because you use the weight of your own body in many of the postures. But unlike regular strength training, because you’re not adding any weights, you’re less likely to get injured.
2. Increased Flexibility.
The gentle stretching of yoga poses can go a long way in helping you develop greater flexibility, which can ensure that you maintain a good range of motion as you get older. A limited range of motion, which naturally declines as the body ages, makes older adults predisposed to falls and eventually gets in the way of daily activities.
Yoga exercises parts of the body that may not be exercised in any other programs. One is spinal flexibility. There’s a yogic saying that ‘the body is as young as the spine is flexible.’ That’s a reflection of the importance of keeping the spine pliable and maintaining spinal circulation.
3. Promotes Good Bone Health.
A gentle yoga practice is not only safe for those with osteoporosis, but it can also be effective in preventing and slowing bone density loss. Whether you’re looking to prevent osteoporosis or to relieve pain from an existing bone condition or fracture, gentle twisting poses and stretches can be beneficial when performed correctly and with awareness.
4. Yoga Keeps the Mind Sharp.
Taking quiet time out for yourself through a weekly or daily yoga practice can help relieve stress, and keep you centred and energised, especially if the session includes guided relaxation or meditation.
5. Yoga Unites.
Yoga provides a social, group orientated focal point, helping to unite participants and provides a supportive network and enjoyable activity for mind, body and spirit.
When your body functions better, you’re going to feel better. You’ll have more energy, more vitality, and most yoga practitioners will say that regular yoga practice helps even out one’s moods and keeps you young.
These are just a few of the enormous number of benefits of regular Yoga practice. But remember – Yoga has to be practiced to be beneficial, so why not experience what it can bring to your life?
About your Teacher: Sally Collins RYT, ITEC (Dist)
At lifelong Nurture we are passionate about bringing the many benefits of Yoga to as many people as we can.
We take pride in taking chair based yoga to those in residential care homes and run classes for the Parkinson’s society.
We also provide one to one Yoga, relaxation and fitness sessions for older clients in their own homes and specialise in providing adapted programmes for the elderly and those recovering from injury / surgery.
For more information about bringing Yoga, Chair-Based Exercise or relaxation therapy to your establishment, day centre, or residential care home please contact Sally by telephone or email to discuss your requirements.