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Amazing Benefits of Yoga and Meditation for Seniors
There is a good reason why active senior communities have become so popular — the days of retirement being a time of limited activity are gone. Seniors today want to live well and stay healthier longer, and starting a practice of yoga and meditation is one of the best ways to accomplish that goal. Yoga is an exercise that is accessible at any skill level, even for those with limited mobility, and the health benefits are ideal for anyone in their golden years. Yoga Mike explains below:
Yoga truly is a form of exercise that can be tailored to your unique needs, but with all the options, you may feel a little confused about how to get started (or help a loved one start yoga). We recommend taking a class first because a trained yoga instructor can guide you and ease any concerns.
Seniors who are new to yoga or haven’t been very active in recent years should start with a restorative or gentle class. Yoga International explains how a teacher can also give feedback and recognize if something is off, such as knees being positioned in an unhealthy way. If yoga classes aren’t affordable, your health insurance might cover them at certain fitness centers if you have a Medicare Advantage plan (basic Medicare doesn’t provide this kind of coverage).
Once you have a good feel for the basics, you may also want to practice yoga at home. It doesn’t take a full studio class to make a difference, and incorporating even short sessions into your home routine is a great way to commit to your yoga practice. Make sure you have plenty of space to practice comfortably and a good yoga mat. Sometimes, seniors find that they have a spare bedroom or other space they don’t use often that makes a perfect place to practice yoga.
Something else to consider as you set up your yoga space is that you might want to use it for other exercises as well. Medicare.org lists several of these, including stretching, chair-based fitness activities, step, and strength-training exercises.
Whether it’s at home or in a studio, motivation is key. One way to stay on track is through media by listening to music, taking in a favorite podcast, or doing your moves along with a video. For this you’ll need quality speakers, headphones or earbuds, preferably Bluetooth-enabled so you can take it in from any spot in the room or in any yoga position you find yourself in.
What’s in It For You?
Many people think of yoga as simply stretching, which in itself offers such benefits as strength, increased movement, relaxation of the mind and body, and stress relief. However, beyond those obvious pluses, yoga brings a wealth of other positive aspects to your life.
- Fight off aging ailments – Yoga is an exercise that helps fight off problems that are common as we age. According to Do You Yoga, you will develop better balance, which helps reduce the risk of falling. You will also build strength, which gives you more independence later in life and protects bones. Practicing yoga regularly also increases flexibility and can relieve pain, especially in joints.
- Give your brain a boost – Even if you don’t meditate at other times, yoga naturally has a meditative component, as well as a focus on your breath. Combined with the physical benefits, this aspect of yoga is a powerful way to reduce anxiety and other mental health problems. Besides improving mental health, yoga and meditation also help improve memory and can reduce the impact of living with Alzheimer’s.
- Rest better and feel more energized – The calming effects of practicing yoga and meditation can help you sleep better, and there are even specific types of yoga that promote a relaxation response. Aside from helping you rest well at night, yoga also boosts energy by balancing cortisol levels and reducing mental fatigue that weighs you down and can make you feel sluggish.
- Hidden health benefits – Along with the more well-known benefits, you may be surprised by some of the other ways yoga improves your overall health. One of those benefits is heart health, as the combination of aerobic activity and relaxation lowers blood pressure and improves blood circulation. Yoga also helps with asthma, improves digestion, and can help ward off migraines.
It’s never too late to get started with yoga and meditation, and with all the amazing benefits, there’s really no reason not to. Starting something new is the hardest part — once you do, you should feel the benefits immediately!
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