How Yoga Can Help Seniors Manage Stress
Understanding Yoga for Stress Relief
Many seniors face a high level of stress and anxiety with progressing age. The death of loved ones can cause stress, deterioration of mental or physical health, relationships, retirement, financial issues, etc. managing stress is crucial for the well-being and overall health of the seniors. An easy way to manage stress is by practicing Yoga regularly.
Yoga relaxes and refreshes our mind, body, and soul. It is one of the few physical exercises that older adults can continue doing with increasing age. Regular practice of simple yoga breathing exercises helps in reducing the stress level in older adults. Practicing Yoga improves mood and lifts the spirits in seniors. With the growing popularity of Yoga most of the Retirement Communities have yoga sessions for older adults.
How to Get Most Out of Yoga?
Doing a yoga asana is one thing, but if you want to get the most out of your yoga session, then doing the asana correctly is crucial. A simple yoga asana can be highly beneficial in relieving stress when your entire focus is on your breathing while maintaining the right posture.
Two simple tips that would help you relieve stress while performing a yoga asana are:
Stay in the moment:
When we are under stress, many thoughts keep on crossing our minds. We generally get caught up in finding answers to ‘what if.’ While performing any yoga asana, focus and concentration are essential. Just focus on your every breath and observe the changes taking place in our body during every inhale and exhale.
Staying in the moment would help in decluttering our minds and bring calmness. As a result, we would be in a better position to handle the situation at hand.
Use breathing as your weapon when the situation gets challenging.
In a difficult situation, instead of taking stress, try to concentrate on your breathing. It would help in relaxing your mind as well as body.
When to Try Yoga?
If you are a beginner, you can start by joining a weekly yoga class. In case you are living in a senior living or a retirement community, then you have nothing to worry. Most of such communities conduct a regular yoga session for seniors. However, if you are a cat lover, then it is advisable to look for a retirement communities that accept cats.
The best time to try Yoga is early in the morning before taking the first meal. You may even practice it in the evening. However, if you are feeling stressed, you can practice some simple stress-relieving asanas before going to bed.
What to Look for in a Senior Yoga Class?
Yoga is considered one of the best and most effective exercises for older adults if done regularly. If you are planning to start Yoga, it is advisable to perform it under a yoga instructor. Finding the right instructor is very important. Remember, all the yoga instructors might not be experienced and knowledgeable enough to take care of the unique needs of seniors.
Below we have mentioned a few characteristics that you should check while selecting a yoga instructor.
Look for a yoga class with a lesser number of trainees. Seniors need special attention while performing yoga postures. It helps in avoiding injuries, especially in the initial stages.
Qualification of the instructor. Check how long the instructor is teaching Yoga. Check whether the instructor has any experience in handling older adults or not.
Observe the yoga class and see how excellent the instructor is in teaching and handling older adults.
Before joining the classes, talk to your instructor and tell him/her about your expectations, needs, health issues, and physical limitations (if any).
What are the Core Components?
Every yoga asana aims at attaining a specific body posture. To reach a particular pose, we need to follow a series of body movements. These movements help in increasing our body’s flexibility and strength.
Poses can be as simple as lying on the floor and relaxing our body to complicated postures that require us to stretch our physical limits.
Breathing forms an integral part of Yoga. Yoga teaches an individual how to control breathing. Concentrating and focusing on breathing not only relaxes our body and mind but also helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Meditation is an essential part of Yoga. Practicing meditation help individuals to connect with their mind, body, and soul. It teaches people to live in the present and also enhances mindfulness.
What are the Different Health Benefits?
– Betters Brain Function
Regular practice of Yoga helps in reducing stress levels and improving the mood. Studies have shown that daily practice of Yoga enhances brain functions (memory, reasoning, etc.) and helps delay cognitive decline in seniors.
– Manages Chronic Pain & Conditions
Practicing Yoga helps in strengthening bones, joints, and muscles. This further allows seniors to manage chronic pains associated with diseases such as arthritis. In addition to this Yoga also helps to prevent chronic conditions such as B.P., heart-related ailments, etc. among older adults.
– Lower Incidence of Hypertension
Yoga calms our mind and body. Controlled breathing practices of Yoga keep heart rate and blood pressure normal, even under stressful situations. Thus reducing the risk of hypertension in seniors.
– Improves Fitness
Yoga is an exercise that keeps an individual physically, mentally, and emotionally fit and healthy. The regular practice of Yoga enhances the range of motion, flexibility, balance, and strength.
What Yoga Precautions Should be Taken?
Yoga is considered very safe, especially when performed under the guidance of an instructor. Hence, it’s better to talk to your instructor and tell him/her about the health concerns. This way, the trainer would make you practice poses that suit your body needs and requirements.
Some other precautions which a senior should keep in mind while performing yoga poses are mentioned below.
Avoid holding a pose for longer duration’s. Repeating the pose would be a better option.
Take sufficient rest after completing each posture.
Attempt new postures only when your body gets used to a regular yoga routine.
Please do not push your body too much during the yoga session, as it might result in injury.
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