senior-yoga

The ancient holistic practice of yoga has continued down through the centuries simply because it is known to be highly beneficial for both mind and body without any harmful side-effects. Contrary to popular belief it is not just something for younger people to enjoy. Yoga is not only safe for elderly practitioners but is highly effective in maintaining good physical and mental health. Nor is there anything wrong with complete beginners taking up yoga even when they have reached pensionable age.

Clearly, unless they have maintained an above average level of activity throughout their lives, the elderly are advised not to turn up to a class designed for younger beginners but should instead seek out a studio that offers beginner classes with props for modifications. Many even have special courses tailored specifically for older adults.

So what are the sort of benefits that older people can expect to see from beginning the practice ? Well, there is an old yogic adage which says that “ the body is as young as the spine is flexible”. Yoga fans believe in the importance of keeping the spine as pliable as possible and promoting maximum circulation within the spinal chord. In fact, the exercises do much to develop greater flexibility throughout the body and to maintain good mobility as people get older. The alternative is a limited range of motion which renders the elderly predisposed to falls and eventually restricts many everyday activities.

A second major benefit of yoga for the elderly is that it has been proven by American medical research studies to prevent and slow down the bone density loss that comes with old age and to therefore inhibit the onset of osteoporosis. A group of adults with an average age of 68 were each given a bone density scan and half of them were taught yoga. These volunteers were given another scan after 2 years and were found to have not only stopped losing bone but had actually gained some. Not surprisingly, the other half had experienced net loss of bone.

Yoga can also be very therapeutic when it comes to maintaining healthy joints. As people get older, they often develop pains in specific arm and/or leg joints which naturally cause them to increase the pressure on other joints which are not affected. This just leads into a vicious spiral of decline whereas the stretching exercises in yoga improve blood flow to the joints leading to better mobility and often a noticeable improvement in any established joint pain.

Finally, although most forms of exercise are known to be beneficial for mental health, particularly in alleviating the anxiety and depression that can often affect the elderly, yoga is acknowledged as being particularly good for one’s sense of wellbeing and contentment because it focusses so much on relaxation and mindfulness. It is quite easy to find local yoga classes in such places as gyms and community centres while many enlightened care homes will have visiting teachers who will provide bespoke tuition for elderly participants.

This article was provided by Hallmark Care Homes.