For anyone prioritizing their health, adopting new practices that work for you can be essential. When it comes to exercise, there are many different methods for various activity levels. For seniors looking to build strength, enhance mobility, boost mood and relieve stress, yoga is a great option.
Yoga is a low intensity activity for all ages, and its positive results have no age limit. The benefits of yoga for seniors are both mental and physical. In this article, we’ll detail the ways you and your loved one can achieve better health by practicing yoga.
Exercise is beneficial at every age, but as we get older, staying active becomes even more important. Yoga is a low-impact exercise, which makes participation for seniors easier than fast-paced sports that could bring injury risks.
This form of exercise also allows for social opportunity. Taking part in group activities connects you to other residents with similar interests. Engaging with a community creates a sense of belonging that can combat any signs of loneliness if you or your loved one are experiencing feelings of isolation.
Related: How Senior Living Can Combat Senior Loneliness and Depression
Mental Benefits Of Yoga For Seniors
Yoga is designed to be practiced in a peaceful environment. Relaxation is a key element of yoga, and it can be used for various purposes including meditation. The calming nature of yoga provides multiple benefits to one’s mental health. Practicing yoga can help:
1. Reduce Stress
Strategic breathing techniques are used in yoga to reduce and release tension from the body, including stress and anxiety. This controlled breathing method allows you to slow down, relax and soothe your mind. In these moments, focusing solely on your inhales and exhales will halt other intrusive thoughts of stressful situations.
2. Boost Mood
Exercise is known to produce serotonin, which is associated with higher levels of happiness. Yoga offers those same endorphins but takes it one step further with the additional benefit of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which boosts mood and decreases anxiety. Studies show the feel-good hormones yoga provides include serotonin, GABA and dopamine. These brain chemicals yoga brings to the body have positive effects and boost your mood.
In addition to just yoga, another way to fully reap the benefits of yoga is to experience yoga with animals, like this image of an outdoor yoga class at StoryPoint Waterville. This is because interacting with animals reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) while simultaneously increasing serotonin and dopamine (hormones that trigger happiness). Goat yoga can help you release tension. It’s impossible to not smile as you watch the goats prancing around your feet and their joy is infectious!
3. Improve Sleep
Proper sleep is imperative for mental health. Certain functions of the body and brain are engaged during sleep that regulate emotions and behaviors. Without proper rest, emotions aren’t processed properly, influencing mood. One way to get better sleep is by establishing a bedtime routine. Incorporating yoga before bed will create a relaxing routine to help you unwind and prepare for quality sleep throughout the night.
Related: How Our Sleep Changes As We Age
4. Increase Mindfulness
Mindfulness allows people to be fully present in the moment and aware of their current feelings and emotions. Yoga encourages people to practice mindfulness by shifting their thought processes. Through breathing, poses and meditation, you can connect with yourself internally. Focusing on the present moment pauses the chaos of thinking about the past or future. Mindfulness influences reactive emotions and with practice, stressful situations will have calmer reactions and thought-out responses.
5. Sharpen Brain Function
Studies show yoga can enhance cognitive skills by developing new brain cell connections and sharpening its functions. According to Harvard Health, yoga strengthens parts of the brain that play a key role in memory, attention, awareness, thought and language. Engaging the brain through practices such as yoga is beneficial for keeping your mind sharp.
Physical Benefits Of Yoga For Seniors
Physical health is something to prioritize at any age, and there are many ways to do so, but yoga is one of the best options for exercising at a low intensity. This practice engages your body and keeps it moving with low-impact movements, which is ideal for seniors. Practicing yoga can help:
1. Strengthen The Body
Yoga builds strong muscles and bones, preventing osteoporosis. Different poses have the ability to target specific muscles that may need attention and restore bone density. Or, full body workouts can be done using a variety of positions. All poses are designed to engage core abdominal muscles. While standing poses build leg muscles, sitting poses strengthen lower back muscles. Yoga offers moves for all skill levels, so start participating to build strength.
2. Enhance Mobility
As your body becomes stronger, you’ll notice other benefits too. Exercise enhances balance, mobility and flexibility. Practicing yoga also strengthens the body for everyday movements. For instance, enhanced mobility and balance lessen the risk of falls. As we age and stability declines, simple activities can turn into falling hazards. Working to improve balance through yoga provides safety in day-to-day motions.
Related: Low-Impact Exercises For Seniors
3. Alleviate Pain
With the wide range of movements yoga offers, some poses are aimed to alleviate aches and pains. Stretching and simply getting your body moving allows the muscles to loosen up and release built up tension. With age, tight muscles and stiff joints become more common, but working out can help. Using yoga to improve your range of motion can increase flexibility and strength, while also loosening muscles.
4. Improve Respiration
Some seniors may experience breathing difficulties with age. Respiratory systems may slow down and limit oxygen flow. With yoga’s intense focus on breathing, it can help combat respiratory issues. Yoga teaches breathing techniques for seniors to adapt better breathing habits. These techniques increase the flow of oxygen resulting in positive effects for the whole body.
5. Reduce High Blood Pressure
The CDC reports lower rates of high blood pressure in seniors that engage in physical activity. Rates were also lower for coronary heart disease, stroke and several other conditions. This is due to the stress relief yoga provides. Through meditation, the body has a chance to relax the mind and let go of stress. Studies show yoga releases oxidative stress in seniors, which is one of the underlying causes of high blood pressure.
Related: 5 Tips On Reducing Inflammation For Seniors | Anti-Inflammatory Diet
The Benefits Of Yoga At StoryPoint Group
In our StoryPoint Group Communities, we understand the benefits of yoga for seniors and strive to give each of our residents the chance to shine, everyday. That’s why many of our communities, like StoryPoint Chesterfield shown above, holds weekly yoga classes and other dynamic activities.
Getting involved with community activities is a great way to make friends while staying active. We offer many ways for our residents to get involved and let their hobbies shine, including yoga. Our physical fitness programs will meet you wherever you are in your fitness journey. To learn more, call us at 1-844-275-9990 or contact a community specialist today.