When we think ‘elderly,’ we immediately picture a kind-faced man or woman with grey hair tending to their potted plants, spending time with the grandkids, or reminiscing their youth. Old age is so much more than just living out your retirement days. People spend the better years of their lives earning a decent livelihood to provide for their families. Once the kids are off on their own and there are no significant bills to pay, people have fewer responsibilities. Years have flown by, and suddenly, there is a lot of time and not many tasks to juggle.
So why not find an activity that is creative and beneficial simultaneously? Like Yoga?
Age should never be the reason not to try something new and exciting. With this said, let us see how and why your age should not deter you from pursuing Yoga.
Benefits Of Yoga In Old Age
Natural aging can be slowed down but not stopped. With increasing age, your body tissues undergo natural disintegration, which may cause structural and functional disturbances. The bones start to degenerate, the muscles lose their strength, and the memory is not as sharp as it used to be, to name a few.
Most people engage in creative hobbies to constructively pass the time during their old age. Choosing activities that give you a balanced dose of physical exercise and mental stimulation is essential. Yoga is one of those select activities that do both.
Let us see how Yoga helps keep a healthy mind and body among the elderly.
Your physical health is not as robust as it used to be once your age starts to catch up with you. All the body systems begin to slow down and may function abnormally. Yoga is a great way to streamline the functioning of your aging body and enjoy good health.
- Easy Digestion
Your digestion is essentially controlled by regular and synchronized movements of the various parts of your stomach and intestines. Old age causes natural muscular and tissue degeneration, which also affects your gut. Traditional Yoga helps put the intestines at ease and prevents chronic constipation, recurring diarrhea, IBS, and other gastrointestinal disturbances. Yoga strengthens the muscles of your digestive tract and even stimulates the liver and pancreas to function better.
- Healthy Heart
The role of Yoga in maintaining a healthy cardiac system cannot be stressed enough. An aging body houses a cardiac system that is also experiencing senile changes. The heart muscles are getting weaker, the arteries may be clogged, and the blood pressure may be off the charts. Many Yoga postures help to regulate the functioning of the cardiac system and keep any chronic conditions under control. Yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation also help keep the blood pressure under control.
- Robust Muscles
You know age has caught up with you when you cannot move your furniture, mow the lawn, or push your shopping cart the way you used to. While you are not expected to be as strong as the Hulk around your 60s, there is always a way to slow down muscular lethargy. Like all other tissue, muscles undergo natural degeneration and structural and functional disintegration. Yoga helps to retain and regain your muscular strength and delays muscle aging.
- Sound Sleep
Advancing age is often an invitation to sleep troubles. Older adults often complain of their inability to fall asleep quickly and may develop associated health troubles. Yoga soothes agitated nerves that are most often responsible for sleep disturbances. Yoga and meditation help calm the mind, contributing to a healthy sleep pattern. Degeneration of brain cells happens naturally with advancing age, which may be the reason for sleep disturbances in older people. Regular yoga practice will help restore the sleep cycle and a blissful state of mind.
- Balanced Metabolism
Our metabolism determines our body’s capacity to digest and assimilate food and utilize it effectively as a source of energy. As digestion slows down with advancing age, your metabolism is also affected. New metabolic disturbances may develop, or older ones such as diabetes may resurface. Old or new, Yoga is highly effective in curbing almost all metabolic disorders.
Besides the above benefits, Yoga also has a profound positive effect on one’s mental health. The following section highlights the importance of special care for mental wellness during old age and Yoga’s role in it.
Old age is likely to leave people with considerable free time and not as many tasks to do. Reduced responsibilities and lack of company are possible additions that may leave older adults mentally dissatisfied. Depression, anxiety, loneliness, and mood swings are some mental health disturbances that older adults may encounter. Here is how Yoga helps in such cases.
- Mental Relaxation
Specific postures and meditation techniques help the mind relax and rid it of stressful thoughts. A calm mind can process things more efficiently and reach suitable conclusions. Yoga stimulates the blood flow to the brain, which allows the brain cells to rejuvenate. Yoga gives a much-deserved mental boost to the brain and refreshes a tired and weary mind.
- Soothing Effect On The Brain
Due to the natural degeneration process of aging, irritation of brain cells is a common problem that older people encounter. This may cause people to become frustrated and angry more easily. Yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques soothe the brain cells and help restore mental calm.
- Restored Self Confidence
With old age, many people may encounter a phase when they feel unloved or unimportant. They wish to return to their old busy routine but may lack the will to do so. Regular Yoga helps regain some self-confidence that people often tend to lose due to old age.
- Jog The Memory
Older adults often face difficulty remembering routine things like loading the dishwasher, watering the plants, or getting milk from the store. Memory loss is a common enemy one makes with advancing age. While Yoga will not restore the razor-sharp mental focus of the youth, it certainly helps to prevent memory lapses to a great extent.
Yoga postures and techniques help to bring about healthy lifestyle changes. Yoga does not magically transform your life overnight, but people who practice Yoga regularly are likely to be happier and healthier.
5 Easy Yoga Poses For Elderly People
Older adults are often skeptical about their physical strength and capabilities. Yoga gives your body the correct type of physical exercise without causing strain or injury. Here are five easy yoga poses that are perfect for beginners.
The ‘warrior pose’ or Virabhadrasana is named so because one resembles the stance that a warrior might have during this Yoga posture.
- Start by lowering yourself down on all fours and gradually elevating your hips. Continue to do so till your legs and hands are straight and your neck is in a neutral position.
- Take your right foot forward and place it near the inner side of your right palm while balancing your body weight equally on all four limbs.
- Straighten your back and elevate your chest and both arms. Keep your arms parallel with the palms facing one another.
- Look straight, and do not bend your head forward or backward. Hold 5-10 breaths depending on your expertise level and return your body to a relaxed posture.
Repeat the same by taking the left foot forward instead of the right foot.
Virabhadrasana is excellent for muscle-strengthening, improving the back and neck posture and sore muscles. It also helps to improve mental health by reinforcing focus and concentration.
The Tadasana is a foundational Yoga pose and forms the baseline for several other Yoga postures. It is a standing yoga pose and is one of the best postures to practice for beginners.
- Stand on a flat surface with some distance between your feet. Your spine should be erect, and the knees and elbows unbent.
- Begin by elevating your heels and balancing your body weight on the ball of your feet and the toes.
- Elevate your arms and stretch them upward while keeping them parallel to one another.
Continue normal breathing throughout the posture and relax your body after some time. Tadasana relieves nerve pain, improves spinal alignment, and improves blood circulation of the legs.
Vajrasana is one of the simplest yoga postures and the ideal practice posture for beginners. It is one of the few Yoga postures one can perform even on a full tummy.
- Sit straight on the floor without slouching. Keep your legs parallel and outstretched in the front.
- Gradually fold each leg so the thighs are parallel to and touching. Rest your buttocks on the heels and bend the feet, so the back of the feet are flat and touching the ground.
- Rest your palms on the thighs such that the elbows are bent.
Continue regular breathing throughout the posture. Vajrasana stimulates digestion, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and improves the flexibility of the knees and ankles.
The Cobra Pose is a basic sleeping Yoga pose that also forms a part of other Yoga postures. It is easy to perform even during old age and can effectively relax your body and mind.
- Lie on a flat surface with your tummy touching the ground, and your feet spread apart at some distance. Look straight ahead.
- Keep your ankles extended so that the soles of your feet are facing upward. Bend both elbows and rest the palms at the side of the chest.
- Elevate your head, neck, chest, and torso by balancing your body weight on both palms.
- Arch your neck and back, stretch your shoulder backward and look towards the ceiling.
- Your thighs, knees, and feet must remain touching the ground.
Continue regular breathing throughout while practicing Bhujangasana. The posture is excellent for fixing spinal alignment, strengthening the chest and arm muscles, and better digestion.
Marjariasana, or the cat pose, is a relaxing Yoga posture that benefits almost every muscle in the body.
- Get down on a flat surface and balance your body on all fours. Your knees should be bent and spread apart at some distance. Your palms must be touching the floor, and your elbows should remain unbent.
- Take a deep breath and completely relax your entire body.
- Now begin by inhaling gradually, and at the same time, elevate your chin to look straight ahead.
- Pull your navel downward and push your buttocks outward so that your back forms a graceful arch.
- Hold the position for a few seconds.
- Exhale slowly while pulling your spine and navel upward, and relax your buttocks. Your back now has a hunched appearance.
- Bring your chin down so that you are staring toward your feet.
Hold the position for some time before repeating the inhaling and exhaling cycle a few more times. Ensure that you switch between the two poses of Marjariasana gracefully without any jerking or rapid movements. Marjariasana is the answer to several spinal and back-related disorders and shoulder stiffness. Marjariasana is effective in regulating blood pressure and helping mental relaxation as well.
Dos And Donts
Yoga is not just a bunch of exercise postures that help you remain fit and healthy; it is a subtle yet powerful way of living. Yoga is a discipline with scientific and religious importance that shapes people’s mindsets and lives for the better. However, one cannot simply lay down their Yoga mats and start practicing Yoga postures and meditation techniques. Let us check the essential things to remember while practicing Yoga.
- Always learn Yoga from a certified trainer only. Practicing Yoga independently without adequate knowledge may cause physical injuries and the development of wrong ideas about Yoga.
- Elderly patients with any ongoing chronic health disorder must consult with their doctor before learning Yoga.
- Breathlessness, sudden fatigue, cramps, pain, or dizziness while performing any Yoga postures are warning signs to seek prompt medical assistance.
- Older people can discuss their health issues and physical ailments with their Yoga trainer to form a suitable exercise plan for them.
- Ask your friends to join you to make your Yoga session fun-filled and more enjoyable.
- Ensure that you are regular with your Yoga sessions and that you practice your Yoga at a fixed time of the day. Though this is not a rule, it is advisable to do so to avail Yoga’s maximum benefits.
Yoga is the best thing that could happen to anybody. Older adults can start practicing Yoga and experience its immense benefits on their overall health. Yoga always finds a way to stay in your life if you give it a chance. Suppose you are already practicing Yoga, great! If you are toying with the thought of starting Yoga soon, today looks like a great day!