As we get older, many adults fall into the same routines and are hesitant to try new things. It isn’t easy stepping out of your comfort zone, especially later in life. Despite these normal hesitations, more older adults are finding that trying yoga, meditation, and other new exercises is extremely rewarding. These activities help lower stress, improve your health, and help you feel better overall as you age.
Why Should Seniors Do Yoga?
We often think of retirement as a time to rest, but retirement is actually the perfect time to find new ways of caring for your health. It’s never too late to take better care of yourself, both physically and mentally, and yoga is one of the most accessible ways of doing that. It’s a perfect activity for older adults because it’s very gentle, and the combined benefits to mind, body, and spirit improve your life in multiple ways.
Some of the Benefits of Yoga:
Protect joints from carpal tunnel and arthritis
Improve balance for reduced risk of falls
Fight off depression and anxiety
Where to Do Yoga
Doing yoga only requires a few basic pieces of equipment. The main things you need are a yoga mat and comfortable clothing, although some people also like to incorporate yoga blocks and bolsters. Since a yoga set-up is pretty minimal, you can practice yoga right in your home (or help your older loved one with their practice, if you’re a caregiver). The internet is a great source for some basic poses, such as these recommendations from AARP. A gentle yoga practice is generally safe, but there is always the risk of injury, so you may feel more comfortable going to a yoga studio to take a class with an experienced teacher. Attending a yoga class is also a great way to meet new people and find a sense of community.
How to Do Yoga
Yoga is for just about every body, but you should check with your healthcare provider before beginning yoga. If you’re new to exercise or have any health concerns, a gentle yoga practice is the way to go. This type of practice involves gentle movements and stretches, along with breathwork for relaxation. There are also adaptive forms of yoga, such as chair yoga, that are ideal for anyone with mobility issues. Yoga should always suit what your body needs. Never push yourself to do anything that feels uncomfortable or hurts.
Include Meditation On and Off the Yoga Mat
Most yoga classes end with a time for relaxation, and the entire process of doing yoga is meditative through the focus on intentional breathing. You can take this a step further by trying meditation at other times too. According to Mindworks, a mindfulness meditation app, meditation can benefit seniors by slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s, improving digestion, sharpening your mind and memory, and making you feel calmer. Meditation can also help lower stress and manage depression, which are two common mental health problems for seniors. If you aren’t sure how to meditate, try these beginner’s meditation videos from Yoga Journal, which give you a guided introduction to meditation that you can do from the comfort of home.
How Else Can Seniors Stay Active?
Besides yoga and meditation, one of the easiest ways to stay active is with at-home exercises for seniors that incorporate technology, such as YouTube exercise videos, fitness apps, and Wii games. While joining an exercise class is good for the sense of community, getting out isn’t always easy, and these technology options can be just as interactive. Wii games, for example, allow you to have neighbors or friends join you in some classic sports like tennis and bowling.
Some people automatically associate yoga and meditation with something younger people do, but these ancient practices are actually ideal for every stage of life. You have different needs as you age, so tailor your yoga practice to what your body needs. Once you get into the habit, you will probably wonder where yoga has been all your life!
Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash
Author Harry Cline is the 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.