Yoga in the Silver Years
HOW TO GET A SENIOR STARTED WITH YOGA
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Yoga offers a plethora of benefits for people of all ages. Specifically for seniors, a modified yoga routine can help with flexibility, muscle tone, balance, and, as Dr. Grace Bullock suggests, memory and brain function. Not sure how to get your elderly loved one started? Keep reading.
Your first step should be to do some research on the yoga classes available for seniors in your area. In addition to picking a class designed for beginners, you’ll want to consider factors like schedule, location, and cost. If your loved one is already a member at a local gym or senior center, check there first. Your senior will be more likely to stick with a class that fits with their existing schedule and is easy to get to. And, while yoga classes are typically very affordable, $10 or $20 per session may still be too much on a fixed income.
If you intend to practice at home, it’s best to have a dedicated yoga/meditation space set up before you begin. This should be a spot where you — and your loved one — are comfortable and relaxed. It should be well organized, with a minimalist theme. An area with natural light and a view of the outdoors will set the mood for the exercise routine. Once you have your space ready, ensure that your senior has comfortable clothing, which will include supportive shoes and, for women, a bra made of breathable fabric. A chair and yoga mat are all the equipment they’ll need for most basic yoga poses.
As you begin discussing even a low-impact exercise routine, you should both be aware of common yoga injuries and take steps to prevent them. Aaptiv lists injuries to the wrists, shoulders, elbows, knees, and hamstrings among the most prevalent. The best way to avoid pain and injury is to start slowly and gauge their abilities. Despite its gentle nature, yoga requires full-body acclamation, especially for seniors who may not be in the greatest shape. Even experienced yoga practitioners are not immune to the physical harm that can happen due to forcing yourself into an uncomfortable position.
As a caregiver, you are responsible for the health and well-being of your aging parent or grandparent. Before beginning any exercise regimen, talk with their doctor. They may recommend alternative exercises, such as water aerobics, or wish to track their progress.
To Good Use
As mentioned previously, yoga has many benefits, and it has many more beyond a strong body and mind. There are several yoga poses that can actually help improve pelvic mobility and core strength, which can help reduce back pain — Silver Sneakers covers nine of these poses in this article. Yoga is also effective for weight loss and weight management, particularly when applying the principles of this ancient practice to dietary habits. This includes curbing emotional eating and harnessing willpower to control cravings.
Sleep deprivation is common in older people. Seniors with insomnia or other sleep disorders may also find yoga valuable when it’s time for bed. More than just relaxing the mind, poses such as Single Leg Happy Baby and Child’s Pose can reduce tension in areas of the body where strain is felt throughout the day. A 10-minute yoga session using these and other simple poses may induce a restful night’s sleep. In fact, getting in a few simple stretches before bed can do wonders for your body, from relieving tension to helping you recover from excessive stress.
If weight loss, muscle flexibility, and improved sleep aren’t enough to convince your senior loved one to consider yoga, skin radiance might do it. People who practice yoga tend to have beautiful skin as part of a phenomenon called the “yoga glow.” Yoga can increase circulation and reduce stress, both of which are known to improve skin elasticity.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of injuries to seniors occur due to falling accidents. Yoga improves balance, increases muscle strength, and enhances cognition, which may improve reaction times that can prevent accidents in the first place. It doesn’t matter how old they are, there are plenty of reasons to practice this ancient exercise. Just remember to create a safe sanctuary and never encourage movements that won’t cause or exacerbate injuries.