The Surprising Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
What was once an exotic Eastern practice is now the buzzword in a number of settings in the Western World. Everyone, it seems, is benefiting from yoga – children who are finding it difficult to concentrate or channel their anger, persons undergoing rehabilitation for substance addiction, women undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer, and seniors, who obtain many more benefits than they realise when they first sign up for a yoga class.
Building Strength and Flexibility
It is important for seniors to strengthen their muscles and work on their flexibility. The stronger their core and leg muscles, the less likely they are to lose their balance and fall. Falling can have serious consequences and can force us to remain inactive for long periods of time. Because yoga can be adapted to any level and age, it is an excellent way for seniors to slowly increase their confidence in their own strength and to realize that it never is too late to get fit. Yoga can also help battle obesity, which has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, and which is linked to cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Being a senior can be stressful if family is far away or if we have recently lost a loved one. Many studies have shown that yoga lowers levels of stress hormone, cortisol. Through its unique combination of breathing exercises and asanas (or yoga poses) and its emphasis on mindfulness, it allows us to escape from the hardships of daily life. Yoga has also been found to lower our heart rate and blood pressure, making it an effective, affordable and accessible way to battle stress and anxiety and pursue better heart health. If you are family member of a senior who may be undergoing a tough time, perhaps the best gift you could give them, is yoga classes, which will function as a natural anti-depressant and wield a host of benefits that most material gifts cannot.
Researchers have found that people who practice yoga for at least half an hour, once a week for at least four years, gain less weight in their middle years, and actually lose weight if they were overweight when they started doing yoga. Researchers think that the secret ingredient is mindfulness. Yoga brings us in tune with our bodies, so we can be aware of when we are actually hungry or thirsty, thus avoiding stress-related bingeing.
Yoga benefits people of all ages but its ability to be adapted to all ages and fitness levels makes it a particularly interesting activity for seniors. In addition to helping keep our weight down, making us feel relaxed and increasing our strength, it is also a fantastic way to meet others with shared interests and life experiences. Don’t wait too long to avail of the benefits of yoga. Namaste.
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