Many seniors don’t realize that activities like yoga and meditation are just as accessible to them as they are to younger generations. If you tend to think of yoga as crazy, pretzel-like moves that you could never see yourself doing, think again! Gentle yoga and meditation are easy for anyone to start at any age, and they have amazing health benefits that you will notice right away.
Why Yoga and Meditation?
Yoga, meditation, and other gentle exercises are actually the perfect way to care for your health. This is true at any age, but these practices are especially great for helping with changes to your body that can be challenging as you get older.
● Physical fitness. Even if you are completely new to exercise, yoga has physical fitness benefits that can’t be beat. Yoga helps with flexibility, it gives you aerobic exercise, and it builds strength. Yoga is especially good at building core strength, which helps improve balance, reducing your risk of falling. Many older adults worry about the risk of injury from higher-impact activity, but with yoga, you get all the same benefits without the strain.
● Manage chronic disease. Practicing yoga can help you control chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and much more. According to Sixty and Me, there is a strong link between yoga and the heart, and many people find that they are able to lower their blood pressure through a consistent, routine practice of yoga.
● Ease conditions common with aging. Yoga helps alleviate and often prevent some of the more challenging issues we face while aging. The strength you gain slows bone loss from osteoporosis. Yoga also improves focus and concentration, which helps keep your mind sharp.
While building up your physical strength, yoga also helps ease stress and promote relaxation. This makes it a great way to lower anxiety, and the mental health benefits work hand-in-hand with the physical benefits. Yoga has a meditative component built right into the practice, but you can also practice meditation off the yoga mat and find many of the same mental and physical benefits.
How Do You Get Started?
The great thing about these practices is that there isn’t just one “right” way to do it, which means you can find an option that’s right for you. These are just a few suggestions and tips to keep in mind for getting started.
● Use technology. The simplest way to start is to use technology to do these exercises from the comfort of your own home. Along with some basic yoga poses and online classes, you can find other low-impact activities online using YouTube exercise videos, as well as other at-home activities that use technology, such as fitness apps and Wii games.
● Find your fit. These practices are extremely adaptable, so don’t hesitate to do what’s right for your body. If you have limited mobility, you may want to do chair yoga. Many yoga studios, gyms, and community centers offer gentle yoga and yoga classes specifically for seniors. There are different styles of meditation too, including mindfulness meditation, Buddhist style meditation, transcendental meditation, and even prayerful meditation. Explore these different options to find the style that’s right for you.
● Set a schedule. Once you get started, you will probably notice the benefits right away, but you want to be consistent to really feel the full effects. Mind Body Green recommends deciding on a time of day for your practice, and maybe even setting an alarm to remind you. Doing this is especially helpful if you exercise or meditate at home rather than going to a regularly scheduled class.
It can be scary trying something new, especially if you have back pain, joint pain, or any other health problems that you worry about. The great thing about yoga, meditation, and low-impact workouts is that they can be done in a way that’s perfectly safe for anybody. Don’t let fear of what could happen keep you from trying something that will improve your health and wellness today!
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos 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.