Yoga for Older Adults
When it comes to yoga there is a golden rules, ‘It’s never too late’. Yoga and its low impact counterpart Pilates, are practices for everybody regardless of your time of life or physical limitations. A holistic practice which combines physical postures, breathing techniques, mindfulness and meditation to bring the body, mind and spirit into balance, yoga for older adults is proving more popular by the day.
Exercise is crucial to ageing well, but it can present extra risks as we age. High intensity exercises such as running, cycling, and weight-lifting put significant strain on the body which can potentially lead to injuries in even the fittest person. As we age, the risk of injury goes up, as does the severity and recovery time! The low impact nature of practices such as yoga and Pilates provide a much safer and more integrated approach to exercise for older adults that takes into account the overall health and wellbeing of the individual. As we age, our joints and muscles become stiff making it important to increase or maintain our flexibility with practices such as yoga. Lengthening the muscles as we do in yoga helps to keep them supple, reducing pain and inflammation in the body,, particularly helpful if you suffer from osteoarthritis.
Yoga promotes physical and mental wellbeing through functional mobility, strength and length in the body and balance in the physical body and the nervous system. Alongside the physical benefits, practitioners of all ages widely report an improvement in their confidence, state of mind and overall wellbeing, perhaps more so with yoga for seniors. Working one to one with an experienced and trusted teacher, such as our teachers, helps to build a routine that strikes the perfect balance between all components.
Some of the benefits of Yoga and pilates for older adults are:
Increased strength, flexibility and improved range of motion.
A limited range of motion can interfere with quality of life and make older adults predisposed to falls. Increased strength improves stability helping us to stay balanced on our two feet and, should we take a tumble, help us to bounce back quicker. Many yoga poses also focus on spinal flexibility which helps to reduce the risk and severity of back and neck pain. Feeling steady, strong and mobile as we move, improves confidence as we grow older, helping us to feel younger and healthier and stay active and independent.
Maintains bone density
As we age, our bones naturally lose density and joints become stiffer. A gentle yoga or Pilates practice is safe for those with osteoporosis and can help to prevent and slow bone density loss. A scientific study in 2016 entitled “Daily yoga Routine reverses Osteoporatice Bone Loss” reported a significant increase in spinal bone density in many of the participants.
Increases lung capacity and quality of breath
Breath is life. We can survive without food for weeks but we can’t last a few minutes without breathing. Breathing restrictions and limitations are common as we age. Reduced oxygen in the respiratory system can have negative effects on the mind and body. A strong emphasis on the breath in yoga for older people is important to help improve the function of the respiratory system which will benefit the quality of being and physical stamina of the practitioner.
Yoga encourages you to cultivate quiet, internally and in your surroundings. The slowing down of the breath and meditative quality of the practice helps to give your mind a break from the frantic pace of everyday life. People who practice yoga regularly report improvements in their mood and sleep patterns due to it’s efficacy in reducing stress and sense of physical and mental wellbeing.
Yoga classes are calm and restorative, relaxing your body and mind—especially those geared toward seniors. When practiced regularly, yoga reduces your sympathetic nervous system dominance (fight or flight response), which can cause inflammations of all kinds and wreaks havoc on the mind and body. The slow controlled movement and synchronised breathwork shifts the body into the parasympathetic nervous system and the relaxation response which reduces the byproducts of stress and feelings anxiety and overwhelm.
These are the only some of yoga’s antidote to the ailments associated with ageing. Why don’t you book a session with one of our experts today and discover the full spectrum of benefits this ancient practice can bring.
Benefits of Pilates for Older Adults
With it’s focus on core stability, controlled breath work and quality of movement, Pilates is another low impact exercise, perfectly suited for older adults. Focusing on building a strong core, using the deep abdominals and the muscles that support the spine, Pilates strengthens the muscles around the joints whilst teaching control and stability through small controlled movements. Control and stability are vital as we age, in order to protect us from falls whilst keeping our mobility and confidence in good shape.
Pilates also helps with a variety of age-related ailments including arthritis as it helps to mobilise the joints, relieve stiffness and reduce pain by helping to maintain normal joint movements and decrease the chance of joint compression.
As many Pilates exercises are performed in reclining or sitting positions, and are all low impact, it is a very safe practice for most levels of fitness and can be an excellent entry point for older adults or re-entry point for those recovering from injury or illness.
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