Yoga & the older adult: nurturing the mind, body, and spirit

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When it comes to healthy activities for seniors, it’s hard to imagine anything that brings more benefits—and joy—than yoga. 

Long touted as a great way to stay flexible and relax the mind, scientists are finding that yoga may do much, much more.

But scientists aren’t the only group making discoveries about yoga. Older Americans are increasingly turning to yoga practice after witnessing the benefits to body, mind, and spirit.

If you haven’t tried yoga, don’t be shy. Lots of seniors fear the Downward Dog and similar poses for a variety of reasons. Learning how yoga nurtures all three aspects of the self may help you overcome whatever fears or misconceptions you have.

Here are three top reasons why seniors across the nation are making time for yoga class on their weekly schedules.

How Yoga Benefits Older Adults

1. Yoga Works for All Ages

In your very first class, you’ll learn that yoga is a highly personalized activity. Your teacher will stress that it’s not a flexibility competition, nor should you feel pressure to assume a pose that feels uncomfortable.

In this regard, yoga works for people of all fitness levels and for people of all ages.

2. Every Aspect of Health is Touched by Practicing Yoga

As the title of this article suggests, yoga offers benefits to all three aspects of well-being: mind, body, and spirit.

Mind

Yoga can produce a mind-calming effect that’s similar to meditation. It also allows your central nervous system to have some down time, which works wonders for clearing out the cobwebs.

Yoga also may help with focus and attention, as it helps relieve stress. Finally, research from the University of California Los Angeles suggests that yoga may also help with cognitive issues associated with Alzheimer’s.

Body

Yoga can’t cure diseases, but the poses you strike can certainly help improve your physical health. The benefits that have made yoga famous—improved flexibility and strength—are wonderful for your overall physical well-being.

In addition, certain poses can have a positive effect on targeted areas of the body.

One example is your lungs. Yoga’s breathing exercises combined with poses like Mountain Pose and Goddess Pose can help open up your chest. This can help your lungs function better.

Other examples include your back and your bones. Yoga may help seniors with back pain, and bone strength gets a boost from all the weight-bearing exercise.

Inflammation, the enemy of good health, also seems to respond well to yoga. That’s good news for a lot of seniors. Inflammation is a symptom of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and arthritis.

Spirit

Whether you’re aware of it or not, yoga can create a sense of harmony and awareness of spirit when you incorporate it in to your week. If you are seeking stress relief, coping skills, or a sense of balance in the world, yoga may deliver.

3. Seniors Can Practice Yoga Anywhere

One thing that endears yoga to millions of people around the world is its highly flexible nature (no pun intended). In other words, yoga can accommodate any personality type and any scenario.

Your practice can be a solitary event where you roll out a mat in your bedroom and go through your Sun Salutations on your own, in complete privacy.

On the other hand, some seniors enjoy yoga in a class environment. They look forward to the camaraderie they feel with others as they work through poses together. It’s for this reason that so many senior centers and senior communities offer ‘Yoga for Seniors’ classes on site.

Yoga is Part of Living With Purpose at Sunrise Senior Living®

Here at Sunrise, we’re no stranger to the benefits of yoga for seniors. Our ‘Live With Purpose’ programming incorporates activities to enrich the mind, body, and spirit. In fact, every Sunrise community has eight signature programs offering residents the chance to engage every dimension of well-being.

Want to learn more? Visit us online to find out more about life enrichment activities at Sunrise!