How Seniors Can Benefit From Regular Yoga and Meditation by Harry Cline

You’re never too old for yoga and meditation. The Harvard Medical School recently issued a survey revealing that the number of Americans over 50 doing yoga has tripled in the last four years. All you need is a little motivation, and you'll be ready to enjoy all the benefits that these wellness-focused activities have to offer. Learn how you can hold onto your youth and avoid illness into old age with simple yoga and meditation.

Every Senior Can Benefit from Yoga

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Since many yoga poses require you to use core strength and flexibility, the activity is great for preventing the likelihood of falls in old age. Plus, with stronger muscles surrounding and protecting your joints, you’re less likely to injure yourself if you do fall. The gentle stretching involved in yoga is great for relieving joint pain as well as aches caused by stiff muscles. Not only that, yoga can improve your respiration thanks to a heavy focus on deep breathing. Additionally, practicing yoga on a regular basis can reduce anxiety and lower high blood pressure.

 
How Seniors Can Safely Practice Yoga
 
The most important thing to remember when starting yoga is to go slow and know your limits. Seniors who have not exercised in a while should seek out gentle beginner's classes. Better yet, find an instructor who teaches yoga specifically for seniors. According to Vive Health, gentle yoga is considered non-strenuous and more meditative than other forms. Look for classes in styles such as Iyengar, Viniyoga, Kripalu, or Hatha. Seniors with limited mobility may enjoy chair yoga or water yoga to take pressure off the feet and joints.

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Mediation is a Miracle Cure for Aging
 
For some people with certain disabilities or ailments, yoga might just be unrealistic. Regardless, everyone can participate in meditation. One if not the most well-documented benefits of meditation is mood enhancement. Meditation has been shown to reduce negative emotions and help people learn to react more positively to stressful situations. On the physical body, meditation leads to improved digestive function by increasing blood circulation. Plus, the practice has anti-inflammatory effects by reducing the body's stress response. Finally, meditation can even slow the progression of Alzheimer's and improve mental alertness.
 
How to Get Started with Meditation
 
Meditation requires very little equipment or space. All you need is somewhere to sit and a quiet atmosphere. Many people prefer to sit on a meditation cushion. However, people with back problems may prefer to sit on a chair. Keep your back straight and don’t worry about how the rest of your body is positioned. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable. Your eyes can be opened or closed, whichever helps you best concentrate on your breath. Many people like to use guided meditation, which involves listening to a recorded voice instructing you how to reach a state of meditation. 
 
 

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Mediation and Yoga for Recovering Addicts
 
Yoga is also extremely beneficial to people fighting addiction recovery. Like seniors, these individuals often experience heightened anxiety, depression, illness, and pain. Yoga teaches people how to observe and be aware of their feelings, helping them spot triggers and manage their reactions to their environment.

Mindfulness-based practices reduce negative moods that are a common cause of relapse in addicts. For many people in recovery, it’s just as important to have a good relationship with the physical self as with the spiritual self. Practicing activities including yoga and meditation help people really learn about their bodies, undoing self-criticism and learning to drop judgment against oneself.
 
So, it’s clear that both yoga and meditation are endlessly beneficial to people in all walks of life. Seniors practicing yoga can reduce the common ails associated with aging such as memory loss and joint pain. Furthermore, meditation can help you deal with feelings of depression and anxiety. If you’re a caretaker or a senior yourself, encourage those around you to get involved in wellness practices like these to enjoy greater well-being and quality of life.

Author

Harry Cline is the creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-To's for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

Q. How do you share your Yoga with Seniors in your life?