By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Can Yoga improve the lives of active seniors? An active lifestyle is one of the keys to a long life. In our elder years, it is important to keep moving in order to enjoy the wonderful essence of life. Yoga is a fantastic activity for seniors, as it is low impact, promotes overall wellness, and can be modified to suit the mobility of any practitioner. If you have been practicing Yoga for many years, you will see your youth extended, and your ability to practice is mildly affected as you age. Even if you are well into your senior years, and have never stepped foot on Yoga mat, it is never too late to start a healthy habit (though it is important to follow your body’s own pace).
Yoga is especially beneficial for seniors because it caters to many of their special health needs. In some cases, Yoga is useful because it helps ease the pains caused by arthritis and limited mobility. It improves balance and stability, reducing the chance of falls. When practiced regularly, Yogic exercise also is known to lower blood pressure. Yoga classes, geared toward seniors, can also help them establish a sense of community with one another and adopt a better outlook on life.
If a senior is a beginner to Yogic practices, it is best to start off slow, and go at his or her own pace. There is no need to try to push the body to do something that it has not been trained to do before. Applying force in asana practice can cause problems, regardless of a student’s age. It is always wise to move through the poses slowly and gently. Adjust the intensity, and time, held in a pose, to meet the body’s unique demands. Some of the best poses for seniors to try are relaxing, restorative, and gentle stretching postures. The corpse pose (Savasana) is great because it promotes relaxation and healthy blood flow.
Table, Cat, and Cow poses connect one’s breathing to body movements and can be very beneficial to seniors, as well. Pose of a Child is another relaxing posture, which is good for everyone. If mobility is a big issue, Chair Yoga might be the right style to choose. With Yoga practice, at a studio or senior center, students will bring their practice home. This is time to try some gentle postures, flows, meditation, and breathing exercises (pranayama). Each of us has different expectations from Yogic practices, and seniors are no different. Senior Yoga students tend to have a deep appreciation for being pain free, keeping the mind active, energizing the body, and experiencing complete wellbeing.
With a little help from Yoga, and a positive state of mind, each of us can get the best quality life out of our golden years. Remember, it is never too late to create a healthy lifestyle, stimulate the mind, and tone a healthier body. Yoga training for active seniors is “the icing on the cake.”
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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