How Seniors Can Start Yoga and Meditation to Promote Health and Well-being
Yoga and meditation have long been popular in communities where holistic wellness is a way of life. But these days, these practices are popular for all types of people – and ages. This includes seniors, a group who stand to benefit the most from the amazing health benefits of yoga and meditation. If you’re a senior, or you care for someone who is, these tips will help you get started.
What Is Yoga, Really?
You may have seen pictures of people doing yoga, contorted in all kinds of crazy positions. Those advanced poses are certainly one way of doing it, but there are many different types of yoga. According to Yogapedia, the most common way to practice yoga is by moving through different asanas (postures) while focusing on intentional breathing coordinated with your flow of movement. While many people enjoy those advanced practices, sticking with simple poses is far easier and something almost anyone can do.
As with yoga, there are many types of meditation. At its core though, meditation is a practice of training your mind toward greater attention and awareness. Meditation is part of yoga, but you can meditate any other time too.
How Should Seniors Start Doing Yoga?
The easiest way to start yoga is to join a class with a trained instructor to guide you. Look for a local yoga studio or for classes offered at your gym or community center. Some places offer senior yoga, but any gentle or beginner class should work. The only equipment you’ll need is a yoga mat. If you’re just starting yoga, consider purchasing a YogaForce A-Line mat. This yoga mat has superior grip and has a grid to help with your alignment, which is great for beginners. Plus, it weighs in at just four pounds so it is easy to carry.
Yoga is simple enough that you can also practice right at home. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing you can move in, and set aside a specific time and space where you can practice. It’s easier to stay committed to your practice and motivated to do it regularly when you have a dedicated space with plenty of room to move comfortably. You want this space to be free of any extra furniture or other bulky items. If you need to declutter anyway, this could be the perfect investment in your space and your health.
How Can Seniors Get the Most Out of Yoga and Meditation?
Seniors need exercise as much as younger people, maybe even more so. The great thing about yoga is it’s a low-impact activity, so it’s a form of exercise seniors can do even if you’re unable to do other types of exercise. Plus, there are options for just about any special need.
If you’re starting at home and worry about your range of motion or other concerns like arthritis pain, there are resources to find the right fit for you. For example, Very Well Health recommends ways those with arthritis can benefit from adaptive yoga practices like chair yoga, water yoga, and the addition of props, such as yoga blocks or bolster cushions, which can be found for relatively cheap (for example, Amazon has a block for less than $16). You can also target specific issues, like working on your balance with these poses.
Regardless of your current health or fitness level, everyone can reap the rewards of starting a yoga practice at any age. Yoga is the perfect activity for seniors because it packs many different benefits into one single practice. Because yoga involves stretching, moving, and building strength, it tackles a multitude of issues that are common as we age. The physical improvements you will see include increased flexibility, range of motion and balance, and greater retention of muscle mass and bone density. Studies have also shown yoga to improve memory and lower depression and anxiety in older adults. These physical and emotional effects work together too because lower anxiety is associated with lower blood pressure and can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.
All of these benefits from yoga and meditation do more than just make you healthier. Better health means you have less pain, greater independence, and can keep doing the things you love. This why yoga is about so much more than stretching! It’s about creating a better quality of life in your senior years.
### By our Guest Blogger, Jason Lewis from StrongWell.Org