We all hope to retire one day in the best of health, free to enjoy all that life has to offer without the daily grind.
However, getting older brings with it its own challenges both physical and mental. Emotionally and psychologically too, getting older takes its toll. The incidence of loneliness, anxiety and depression rises among seniors.
Being active at this stage is key to our wellbeing. A gentle, mindful practice of yoga can provide great therapeutic benefits to seniors and can play a vital role in ensuring physical and mental fitness.
Yoga Improves Strength and Flexibility
Yoga exercises are designed to be gentle on the joints and yet lengthen and strengthen different muscle groups. They also gently align the skeletal structure. Even in our later years a regular practice can help build muscle and bone strength while improving overall flexibility.
Yoga Improves Balance
Balance is as much a function of the body as it is of the brain. Many yoga poses focus on balance and stability which require the mind and body to work in sync. Repeated practice greatly improves balance and reduces the risk of falls.
Improves Lung Function and Stamina
Studies have shown that yoga practice improves lung function in older people which leads to better stamina and increased energy levels.
Improves sleep and Reduces Anxiety
Yoga helps trigger our relaxation response by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. People who practice yoga regularly find that it helps improve their sleep by reducing stress and anxiety. Better sleep also helps reduce inflammation in the body meaning less aches and pains.
In a recent group study it was found that seniors who practiced yoga, versus those who just did brain training, had bigger improvements in visual-spatial memory, the type of memory used to recall locations and navigate while driving.
This is probably down to a holistic practice of yoga which includes breathing, meditation and chanting.
As we practice yoga and become mindful of not just our body, but also of our thoughts and emotions, we become more connected to ourselves and the world around us. Seniors who take up yoga find that they become more optimistic about life and aging.