Yoga is beneficial for everyone, no matter their age, body size or their fitness level –it increases your flexibility and balance and boosts your energy levels, making you stronger and mentally calm. When practiced safely, and with adequate modifications, if needed, it can be extremely helpful for those who’ve entered the golden era of their life, especially when it comes to enhancing their comfort, balance, and mood.
Making yoga your daily routine can be a useful and wise choice of habits to develop and enjoy your leisure time as a senior, but the earlier you start developing it, the better.
Here are some of the most important benefits yoga brings.
Increase Your Flexibility
As we age, our flexibility usually starts to decrease. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can make things even worse, as along with decreased flexibility a sense of discomfort emerges, and we find ourself in a vicious circle of restricted mobility and pain. Yoga can prevent or even reverse this process, bringing a wide range of motions back to your spine, shoulders, legs, and hamstrings.
Don’t worry if during your first yoga training you find yourself not being able to do the backbend or touch your toes. As you progress, gradually, the aches you have will start to disappear, and you’ll find yourself getting closer every day until your fingers and toes finally meet.
Makes You Stronger
Many asanas will require you to carry your own weight in ways previously weren’t accustomed to. Supporting your body with the use of your hands while doing Cobra pose, or standing on just one leg in Tree pose, will do wonders for your flexibility and your balance, but also strengthen your spine and your muscles. Yoga is well known for its effects in strengthening the bones, so it plays an important role when it comes to preventing and fighting osteoporosis.
Find Your Balance
Balance is your body’s ability to move without falling and to keep a firm standing position, and it declines as we grow old. Furthermore, feeling unstable on your feet can result in another vicious circle, and lead to reduced mobility, and as time passes by, reduced independence.
Still, regular yoga exercises will help you in keeping or regaining your balance, which is especially important as we age. Together with flexibility and strength, balance helps us keep our posture and prevent us from falling and injuring ourselves. By regularly practicing several asanas, such as Mountain Pose or Downward Dog, your balance system will soon be back in order, along with your confidence in yourself and your body.
Yoga is also known as beneficial for those dealing with hypertension, as it lowers both the systolic and diastolic body pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease. Experts believe this is because of all the benefits it has when it comes to calming the body and the mind, as well as due to the proper posture and conscious breathing it introduces. There are several positions which are doable no matter how (un)fit you are, and which can help you lower your blood pressure effectively, and if practiced regularly, in the long run.
Relieves Stress and Anxiety
It is not only your body that benefits from yoga, but it’s also your mental well-being that flourishes too. Being comfortable in your own skin and still slowly advancing each time, without straining your body or pushing yourself to improve, gets the stress out of you too, and eases even tiniest bit of anxiety you might be feeling.
Wearing clothes which make you feel comfortable during your yoga sessions, can enhance your feeling of calmness and comfort, so make sure you only wear cozy clothes, which you feel good in, no matter if it’s fitness clothes or your pajamas. Many take it as a rule that they need to practice yoga barefoot, even if they don’t actually love this feeling or are afraid of getting injured. Rethink all the common practices, and if that’s what will make you feel good, swap your new yoga top for your favorite T-shirt, or choose a pair of affordable and comfortable yoga socks to keep your bare feet warm.
Teaches You How to Breathe
We usually don’t think about the way we breathe, so we tend to take shallow breaths, drawing only small amounts of air into our lungs, and not giving our body enough oxygen. Yoga pays special attention to our breathing, and through the practice of pranayama teaches us how to focus on our breathing and take deeper breaths. Focusing on breathing brings a lot of other benefits too, as it helps us with our concentration, makes us calmer, and gets us to stay present in the moment. At the same time, it enables us to feel our bodies, as well as recognize and deal with any discomfort we might be having.
Keep in mind that, as any other physical activity, yoga can have its downsides too, so if you’re new to this entire concept, to avoid the potential pain, injuries or discomfort, take it slowly and don’t go over your pain limit. If you’re doing it at home, you can find some great exercise sessions, along with modifications for persons 50+ either online or on a DVD. Enrolling in specialized yoga classes is a good option too, as you will have the right guidance all along, and your social life might benefit from it too.