There’s plenty to be happy about as we get older – with age comes maturity, wisdom and experience. We’ve lived through difficult times and survived them, we’ve learned what truly makes us happy and we’ve had the chance to share what life has taught us with others. However, along with the positives come reduced mobility, a higher risk of illness and an increased propensity to put on weight.
Luckily, yoga can help us to keep all of these problems at bay as we age. With the range of yoga classes and experiences on offer today, we can even combine our yoga program with a small holiday. Budget yoga retreats to incredible destinations are perfect for seniors, whether traveling alone or with friends. Not only do they offer an intensive yoga experience for the mind, body and spirit, but they also offer the chance to meet like-minded people in inspirational environments, such as Thailand, India and Costa Rica.
The following benefits are what you can expect to experience when signing up for standard yoga classes at your local center.
1. Find balance
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury and death in aging Americans. As such, it’s a good idea to practice an activity like yoga as it will help to strengthen all muscle groups and thus improve balance. In fact, as well as preventing falls in seniors, yoga can also provide the strength needed to make a speedy recovery after an injury.
Muscle loss as we age is a natural process. It happens to us all and begins in our 30s. By the time we reach the age of 75, age-related muscle loss is so chronic that it’s harder for us to build muscle from exercise than ever before. This is another reason why an activity like yoga is so important as we age.
2. Improve flexibility
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As we get older, our joints can become more painful. Yoga encourages us to move our bodies in ways that we wouldn’t normally move them, and this helps us to ward off stiffness and aches. Remaining flexible later on in life is also useful to us to complete day-to-day tasks.
If we can remain flexible, we can remain independent in our later years. Yoga helps us to continue bending and twisting with ease. It means that we won’t have difficulty picking things up from the floor. Nor will we find it cumbersome tying shoelaces or dressing in certain items of clothing with awkward zips.
3. Breathe better
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Older lungs are less tolerant when it comes to physical activity, which is why it’s important to keep exercising them. Like any organ in the body, if we take care of our lungs they work better for longer. As we age, there’s an increased risk of lung infections, shortness of breath, low oxygen levels and abnormal breathing patterns.
The good news is that there are many kinds of yoga. Some are more aerobically demanding than others and this gives us the opportunity to select the style of yoga best suited to our respiratory capabilities. Anything we can do to prevent our lung capacity from worsening over time is more than positive.
4. Reduce blood pressure
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A number of asanas (yoga positions) encourage the reduction of hypertension in the body, which is excellent news for seniors. As we get older, we are at a greater risk of suffering from high blood pressure, a health condition that can spark off even more serious conditions if the problem persists. Particularly for seniors, this can be life-threatening, as high blood pressure can result in a heart attack.
Luckily, yoga is a form of exercise that reduces oxidative stress, one of the main causes for high blood pressure in the elderly. The more we practice yoga, the more we can protect ourselves against high blood pressure and all its side-effects.
Even if you can only manage one class a week, the benefits make the commitment more than worth it. So, when will you be signing up for your first class?
Regardless of your age and fitness level, yoga is something you can take up at any moment in your life. Combine gentle yoga classes and travel on a beginner yoga retreat!