As the human body ages, the need to stay active and fit becomes more important. There is no one-size-fits-all category I can stick the "elderly" into, because bodies age at different rates. There is no doubt in my mind that there are hundreds of 65-year-olds out there who are much more limber and agile than I am. However, if you are over 60, daily exercise can help you retain that youthful look and feel.
Yoga is an ideal form of exercise for those in their golden years. This is because it joins the mind with the body and soul for total body wellness. Practicing yoga not only will keep you flexible and mobile, it keeps the mind sharp. Gentle and Hatha forms of yoga are considered light exercise and are zero-impact, so it is safe and should not be intimidating. The National Center for Biotechnology Information published findings of a study titled Safety and Feasibility of Modified Chair-Yoga on Functional Outcome Among Elderly at Risk for Falls. Findings of the study suggested that "yoga may be beneficial in improving mobility and reducing fear of falling..." Using a non-skid yoga mat and backless yoga chair will improve yoga safety tremendously. Many yoga classes geared towards seniors incorporate a chair. Yoga Accessories also sells yoga DVD's designed for active older adults if you don't want to attend a guided class at a studio. The backless chair was designed to be used for more yoga poses than a regular folding chair can accommodate. Using a chair is great because you don't have to set yourself on the floor and the chair is nice and stable.
According to ancient yoga tradition, human life is divided into four stages or ashrams: the fourth or later stage of life is called 'Sanyasa' which means 'wandering scholar', in which spiritual enlightenment and self-realization is the goal. Yoga practice is aligned with this goal and thought by many to be absolutely necessary. As well as mental and spiritual benefits, yoga has been found to help the following ailments commonly thought to be linked to aging:
- Sleep Disturbance: yoga and deep breathing has shown to decrease length of time it takes to fall asleep and improved sleep quality
- Poor Blood Circulation: Any form of exercise will get the blood pumpin'. Yoga may be able to help without all that cardio. Here are some poses that maximize blood flow
- Osteoporosis: Preliminary studies show that yoga can improve bone density after menopause
- Arthritis/Strength: Get moving to stave off atrophy: yoga is an effective tool against rheumatoid arthritis, improving grip and overall strength
- High Blood Pressure: Yoga is heart-healthy! It lowers stress levels and metabolism which lead to decreased blood pressure