Yoga For Seniors: How To Get Started (And Why You Should)
Yoga can be done anywhere, any time and by anyone, regardless of age. If you are wondering if it’s too late for you to start yoga, the answer is a resounding no. Among the different styles of yoga, there is surely one that suits you best, where you can thrive and attain a sense of oneness of mind, body, and spirit.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is far more than just a way to lose weight. Regular practice can reap many physical and mental benefits that can improve the quality of your day-to-day life as well as your management of chronic health conditions.
Yoga is a practice that requires balance, strength, and flexibility. Regular practice allows these three aspects to improve and can be especially beneficial for older adults.
Working the core helps stabilize and provide balance which makes daily activities such as walking and standing easier. This in turn also improves posture and reduces the risks of falls.
Yoga is also known to improve muscular strength, combat muscle atrophy due to aging and maintain strong and healthy bones and muscles. Transitioning and holding poses serve as a bodyweight strength workout that is easy on the joints and allows you to go at your own pace.
Yoga also helps with flexibility and this relieves the body of pain and tension through stretches that target common problem areas in the body such as the lower back and shoulders. This provides not only an improvement in flexibility and range of motion but can leave your body feeling better and lighter.
Yoga does more than alleviate tension from the body. It can greatly benefit your mental health as well. A calm and centered practice like Yoga lowers stress hormones such as cortisol and boosts feel-good chemicals in the brain, thus elevating your mood.
The meditative mindset developed in yoga practice can help with conditions such as depression and anxiety too. Studies have shown that among relaxation techniques and interventions (i.e. yoga, massage therapy, progressive muscle relaxation, stress management, and listening to music) yoga provides the longest-lasting effects on older adults who struggle with depression and anxiety. Less stress promotes better sleep as well as better management of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
How To Get Started
1. Ask your healthcare provider
Before trying a new workout regimen, especially for those who are not used to an active lifestyle, it is best to ask your physician or elderly caregiver. This is particularly important to those with existing medical conditions as some poses and even types of yoga would be inadvisable due to health reasons.
2. Get the right equipment
Yoga mats vary in thickness and choosing a mat depends on many factors such as the style of yoga you want to practice, personal preference, and portability. Generally, it would be good for those who have sensitive joints to get a thick mat of a good length as it provides a nice cushion between you and the floor when you’re doing floor exercises. Meanwhile, a mat with a sticky surface provides a better grip which is useful for when you sweat.
Fitted and stretchy clothes such as leggings and tank tops are ideal for yoga to allow you the freedom of movement. Yoga is generally done barefoot but if you worry about slipping, you may want to invest in non-slip footwear to give you secure footing.
3. Learn from a qualified instructor
When it comes to Yoga, having an experienced yoga teacher to guide you through the asanas and instruct you on the proper alignment and breathing is crucial to developing a strong foundation of the basics, avoiding injuries, and creating a life-long practice.
4. Start slow
When you’re just starting your yoga practice, it is good to begin learning the basics before moving on to advanced poses. Basic poses and asanas are often repeated in many sequences in yoga and in varying styles so having the proper foundational knowledge would be helpful in your journey.
Don’t worry about not being able to keep up with your instructor or the other people around you. The best part about yoga is seeing your development and improvement over time. You can dig deeper and sink further into your poses with more practice, improving as you gain enough strength to hold more challenging poses for longer periods.
Remember, when you’re on the mat, there is no competition. It is just about you and your body growing stronger as you dive deeper into your practice.
Yoga combines breathing and stretches in a series of movements that draws you to focus only on what you’re doing on the mat. Committing to a regular yoga practice is not simply about the fitness or breaking a sweat, but it’s about a lifelong journey of discovery, improvement, adventure, and pursuit of overall well-being.
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