Yoga isn’t just for the stereotypical young, female yogi. In fact, the beautiful thing about yoga is that it’s truly never too late to start practicing. And you’re never too old to stop! At an older age a gentle practice can do wonders for keeping the body and mind healthy for as long as possible.
Knowing what poses are best for your body as you age is important, so older beginners may want to utilize private classes or even a home practice to begin to explore what works for them. Even if a sequence feels too strenuous remember that there is always relief in returning to child’s pose and knowing that there is no judgement in yoga. You can also try yoga poses for bone health and osteoporosis. After finding what feels good the benefits won’t go unnoticed. Here are ten to take note of.
- Encourages movement. We can always benefit from some form of daily movement, but as we age the challenges associated with high impact forms of exercise make things a little more difficult. Yoga provides a safe way to get moving and stay active.
- Sharpens the mind. A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health demonstrated that post-yoga session the mind showed increased memory and processing power.
- Improves balance. The body awareness that yoga creates helps us maintain a better sense of balance, which in turn lowers the risk of falls and fractures that commonly injure senior citizens.
- Promotes bone strength. Practicing yoga is a great way to take preventative care of your bone health. Bone density naturally decreases with age, but yoga can help keep your bones strong.
- Fights arthritis. Individuals dealing with the pains of arthritis are excellent candidates for yoga. Contrary to what you may have thought, staying sedentary isn’t beneficial for people with arthritis. Staying fit and strengthening muscles actually makes things easier on the joints. Yoga is a great low-impact choice. Types of yoga that would be beneficial for this person include anusara, hatha, or Iyengar.
- Lowers blood pressure. Hypertension can lead to a multitude of health complications if gone untreated, and is a condition that develops as we age. Luckily, yoga is here to help! Scientists have found that a regular yoga practice reduces the diastolic blood pressure number. Yoga exercises the body without putting too much pressure on the cardiovascular system, which is exactly what people with high blood pressure need. Practicing meditation and pranayamas can also be largely beneficial. Read more on that here to get you started. *Like with all of these tips, be sure to consult your physician before taking on any strenuous practice.
- Prevents muscle atrophy. Even the most gentle forms of yoga provide some kind of strengthening benefits, and for seniors who may not be keen on lifting weights, it’s a wonderful strengthening exercise.
- Enriches the body’s functions. The deep breathing performed in yoga sends more oxygen to the blood, which keeps the body’s organs happy, healthy, and functioning at an optimal state.
- Boosts mood. Practicing yoga lowers cortisol levels in the mind and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. These chemical changes make you less anxious and more at ease creating a happier state of mind.
- Improves quality of sleep. The positive and relaxed feelings mentioned in the last point are also responsible for better sleep quality because of the reduced tension in the body as well as the pain relief yoga provides.
If there’s one thing this series can teach us it’s that the benefits of yoga extend to everyone; young or old, big or small. Need more proof? Just take a look at Tao Porchon-Lynch, a 97-year old yogi who still practices regularly. I’ll leave you with her encouraging words,
“There is nothing you cannot do.”
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