Benefits of Yoga For Seniors
Yoga is a holistic practice that utilizes physical poses (asana) with mindfulness, breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation. Practicing yoga has been proven to improve physical health and overall wellness. While there is a spiritual aspect of the practice, it is not obviously religious, opening the possibility and benefits for everyone regardless of their faiths and belief systems. Yoga offers a range of different practices. There are physical demanding flows such as Power and Ashtanga yoga to gentle Yin and chair yoga. The asanas are also easily modified and changed to fit the needs of the individual. Practicing can help aide in keeping the body strong and healthy without adding stress to the joints. This makes yoga safe, effective and approachable for anyone regardless of their age and physical disabilities.
The growth of seniors utilizing yoga has grown tremendously over the years. In 2016, Yoga in America Study found that almost 14 million Americans over the age of 50 have incorporated yoga into their lives, as compared to four million that did so back in 2012. This may have to do with the massive list of benefits found with practicing yoga on a daily basis. It has been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, aide in the recovery from strokes and surgery as well as manage arthritis, pain and inflammation, depression, and digestive issues such as IBS. Yoga also helps create better balance by strengthening the core stability, which in turn helps reduce the risk of falls.
International Journal of Yoga Therapy produced an article explaining how the regular use of yoga has the ability to substantially improve the overall flexibility of older adults. There was another study conducted to prove that pranayama expands the lung capacity, improving the clients pulmonary health. The Journal of Human Kinetics found that elderly woman who practiced yoga up to three times a week for 12 weeks had a dramatic improvement in their respiratory function. Research has also shown that yoga can improve bone density in post menopausal women.
Other studies have produced positive results. The National Institute of Health conducted a study on the reduction of anxiety and stress in relation to the practice of yoga. The results showed that 85 percent of people who utilized yoga said their stress has been reduced. Another study in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine showed that seniors who suffer with insomnia showed meaningful improvement in both the duration and quality of sleep after only three months of practicing.
In order to start a practice it is important to get a clearing from your doctor. The next step is to contact local yoga studios or community centers and health clubs to see what types of classes they offer. There is also a useful website; yogaclassesnearyou.com, where you can enter your location and the specific type of yoga you are looking for. It is never too late, or past your age to begin implementing a yoga practice into your daily life!
Author Julie Ruggiero
Greendale, G.A., Haung, M., Karlamangla, A.S., Seeger, L., & Crawford, S., (2009). Yoga decreases kyphosis in senior woman and men with adult-onset hyperkyphosis: results of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American geriatrics socity. 57(9), 1569-1579.
Publisher (2020). Yoga for seniors: how to get started (and why you should). Great senior living.
Retrieved from greatseniorliving.com
Yoga For Seniors (2021). Yoga for seniors. Do yoga with me. Retrieved from: doyogawithme.com