I have worked with many seniors, and often the first question I hear is, “Am I too old to start yoga?” The answer most emphatically is no! It’s never too late to start yoga and help improve your quality of life. Here are six significant benefits.
Circulation is an important consideration, especially when mobility becomes compromised. Many seniors cannot move easily between standing and sitting poses on the floor. If a person has gastric issues, this makes yoga hazardous because reversing the direction of blood flow is complicated and can even trigger other health issues. Special considerations can easily be made to make yoga for seniors beneficial. For example, seniors can practice using props such as a chair or a wall. Simple modifications such as these can improve circulation without adversely affecting other bodily systems.
We spend much of our lives standing or sitting upright. So, we understand that the longer we live, the longer the bones in our bodies are pressing down on the ones below them. The compressed joints often begin to wear down, just like bushings and bearings will become worn on a vehicle. Yoga for seniors helps by facilitating joint mobility and employing traction tension in the joints and spine to alleviate compression.
Many seniors are dependent on walkers or canes. Often, these items are used by people who fear that they do not have enough strength or stability to get up and walk without them. Wall yoga can be great for these yogis. It offers you opportunity to hold on and use the wall as a foot stopper to avoid falls. Wall yoga also allows the teacher to easily assist, like a reassuring arm to help seniors remain in a pose long enough for strength and stamina to begin to develop in the legs, core, and heart. Building this strength does what lifting weights might do as well, which is increase bone density. For seniors, osteoporosis can become a serious threat. Strength-building exercises with senior yoga can help to reduce this risk factor.
A quote from one of my favorite Adam Sandler movies is: “It’s all in the hips…it’s all in the hips…it’s all in the hips.” This couldn’t be more accurate for seniors. Flexibility in the hips helps seniors to walk, bend, and engage their bodies in everyday routines without hurting themselves. Oh, the possibilities: seated stretches, side bends, neck/shoulder stretches, and leg/hip circles. Think of each joint from top to bottom and imagine the gentle movement needed to get the body flowing and moving in a way that will sustain regular activity without fear of injury. “It’s all in the hips.”
It’s true. Movement, especially around the core, can help the flow of food through the large intestines and ultimately eliminate or reduce gas, constipation and acid reflux which can become severe with aging. Even slow, meditative walking can get the body to a place where the functionality of the digestive system can increase its effectiveness.
Last, but certainly not least, breath work can assist everyone, from those with limited mobility to the most agile of seniors. Breath work can lower blood pressure. It can decrease stress levels and increase comfort in the mind. Breathing properly allows the digestive system to process food more steadily. A key benefit for flexibility is how it releases muscles on the exhale and provides a moment of complete mental release in addition to relaxing muscle tension
These are just a few compelling ways seniors can help increase their quality of life and longevity with yoga. Newton’s first law of motion says it best: “An object in uniform motion stays in motion…” So, to all those beautiful seniors out there, I say, “Get moving!” Invite some therapeutic yoga into your life today! Contact me so we can get you started on your path to mobility and longevity.