Senior Living & Townehouse News

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How Yoga and Meditation Can Contribute to Senior Wellness

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Yoga and meditation can be valuable parts of senior wellness. In addition to sustaining or improving physical health, the mental and emotional components of these practices are key. Here are some ways these practices can contribute to the well-being of seniors:

Physical Health

The physical component is often the first thing that comes to mind when one is interested in exploring yoga. There is no doubt that yoga is a great option for senior exercise activities.

The poses and gentle stretching of a yoga practice are great for improving flexibility, reducing stiffness, and maintaining joint health. Yoga also improves strength and balance. Improved balance can help prevent falls, which is especially important for seniors. Improved lung capacity, reduced heart rate, better blood pressure, and lessened back pain have all been shown in studies as benefits to yoga.

If you’re worried you’re not quite ready to put on a leotard and stand on your head, keep in mind that there are many ways to practice yoga. It’s about being present in your body and exercising at your own level and pace. Chair yoga is a great option for those who may be unable to perform traditional yoga poses.

Mental Wellbeing

We briefly mentioned above about how yoga centers around “being in your body.” The connection between mind and body cannot be understated, and the practice of yoga emphasizes this. More “body awareness” can also reduce the risk of falls, as well as keep your mind alert. Meditation, during the practice of yoga or on its own, is a key to keeping the mind alert and emotions regulated.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, regular practice of yoga has also been associated with reduced anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Mindful breathing and meditation are key parts of yoga, and are linked to reduced levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Meditation can also positively contribute to cognitive function and memory.

Multiple studies show that yoga contributes to one’s mental health, can reduce cognitive decline, and even have positive effects on cellular aging.

Emotional Wellbeing

The exercise component of yoga, in conjunction with the meditative aspect, promote the release of “endorphins”–one of the “feel good” chemicals created by your body.

Isn’t it amazing that humans even have a “feel good” chemical just waiting to be activated, and it’s as simple as dedicating a few minutes out of the day to stretching? Well, of course it’s rarely that simple–errands pile up, and the day whizzes by without many minutes to spare. This is one of the positives of moving into a senior living community–the opportunity to have more time to try new, healthy and engaging activities.

The Ventura Townehouse does offer yoga classes, as well as other classes centered around physical activities. Which brings us to another crucial factor–socialization. Socialization is key for seniors, and studies show that participating in yoga or meditation classes provides seniors with a stronger sense of community.

The American Psychiatric Association article linked above mentions that “in a yoga class, everyone is moving and breathing in at the same time and I think that’s one of the undervalued mechanisms that yoga can really help with: giving people that sense of belonging, of being part of something bigger.”

Please keep in mind that, in general, those starting out on their yoga journey should always be taught by a professional who can help them understand the limits of their own bodies, and teach them to practice safely.

If you have the opportunity, consider giving yoga and/or meditation a try. If you’re intimidated, remember that your start can be as simple as stretching a limb or taking a deep breath. These can be the first steps towards your wellness journey.