It’s not very often that I see a senior taking part in the yoga classes I usually attend, but when I do, I am generally surprised. In fact, it’s incredible to see how flexible they are regardless of age and how naturally easy they flow from one asana to the other. In the many years I’ve practiced yoga, I have seen seniors of all levels getting on the mat and doing their best.
However, I have always wondered why older adults don’t practice yoga in larger numbers. After all, the benefits are so many and yoga’s entire philosophy and focus are absolutely crucial for old age. I assume that the general understanding of yoga is that it involves difficult inversions that are impossible to do after a certain age. And that couldn’t be further away from the truth, as there are so many different yoga styles that come with such a varied approach on the yoga poses, the props (you can even practice using a chair!), and the pace, that it’s safe to say virtually anyone can practice it.
Here are 5 reasons why practicing yoga at an older age will benefit you on all levels. It will not only make you feel more content and look younger, but it will maintain your body healthy and it will allow you to live life to the fullest.
1. Improved mobility and flexible joints, for a joyous, active life
Yes it is true, the more flexible your body gets, the younger you will look and feel. But just imagine regaining your mobility from back in the day when living an active life was just your natural way of being.
A constant yoga practice will make your joints flexible again and before you know it, you will jump in and out of a chair with ease. You will walk faster and you will move around with confidence. You will have more energy and you will not be afraid of falling ever again. And not only that, but if you’re struggling with arthritis or other stiff-joint illnesses, then you should know that yoga is perfect for easing the pain and helping you become more limber and agile.
2. Better heart and lungs, for an overall health boost
As you begin with the first yoga poses, you will notice that each movement is linked to either a deep inhale or exhale. Linking movement to breath is a very important aspect in any yoga practice. The deep breaths you’ll be taking will boost your vitality and fill your cells with oxygen.
On top of that, studies have shown that yoga helps decrease blood pressure and keep it under lower levels even after practice.
3. A healthier mind, for better sleep and no anxiety
Yoga contributes greatly to steading the mind and improving mental focus. And when the mind is relaxed and at peace, only good things can follow. Expect a sudden energy boost, prepare to get better sleep, and last but not least, watch anxiety and stress simply dissolve.
Generally, a yoga class comes along with a couple of minutes of meditation. In the beginning and the end of every class, you get to stay present and center your focus on your breathing and on your body. The benefits are so sudden it’s safe to say that you will feel physical and mental well-being after the very first yoga session.
4. A better balance, for overall stability and muscle strength
Yoga is all about reaching the right balance, inside and out. Muscle strength and stability gain that follow after as little as a few weeks’ practice are incredibly beneficial for old age. Yoga is just what you need if you’re not as secure on your body’s strength and balance as you used to be.
There are various yoga poses that you can do to improve stability. If they seem too difficult, you have nothing to worry about. The yoga teacher will always show you easier variations of each pose. One reassuring aspect about yoga is that you never have to force anything. You simply persist with your practice and then notice that a few weeks later your flexibility and mobility have improved.
5. A constant yoga practice, the greatest pain reliever out there
Various types of back pain and stiffness can be relieved through yoga. Studies show that yoga is also extremely beneficial for arthritis. Another great thing yoga does is that it helps with pain management. You learn to hear your body and perceive pain differently.
Yoga stretches and strengthens the muscles along your spine, reducing all that muscular stiffness. Not only that, but it corrects your overall posture. Most yoga poses for chronic pain involve a lot of props in order to keep your balance or stretch the right muscles without harming anything.
If you’re afraid to try it by yourself for the first time, then a yoga retreat for seniors is definitely the best place to start. Expect the yoga sessions to be slow-paced, relaxed, and deeply healing. Whether it’s yoga Nidra, chair yoga, or a restorative, gentle yoga practice, one thing is certain. The hours spent on the mat will soothe your whole being, inside and out.
About the Author
Irina Gabriela Pele is a cultural anthropologist, health writer, and a yogi. She strives to live every day with presence and grace and dreams to one day become a yoga teacher.
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