We recently covered the benefits of practicing yoga as kids, but did you know that starting yoga later in life has its own set of benefits? We’re talking:
Relief from chronic pain;
Improved balance, mobility and flexibility;
A sharper mind;
Reduction in stress, blood pressure and cholesterol; and
One big obstacle that can be overcome with yoga is the fear of falling. It may seem silly to younger people, but the fear of falling can be very limiting for seniors, as it can cause them to avoid social and physical activity. This lack of socialization and mobility could lead to a lower quality of life and health. Because yoga builds strength and improves balance, it is the the perfect activity to help seniors get over their fear of falling.
A 2009 study by Indiana University found that after a 12-week, twice weekly hatha yoga class taught by a professional yoga therapist, participants reported a 6% reduction in their fear of falling, a 34% increase in lower body flexibility, and a significant reduction in their social and physical constraints. That's pretty remarkable!
Impressed yet? Here are two effective options to get you (or an older family member) hooked on gentle yoga:
Worried that you won't be able to get down on the floor (or back up) for a yoga session? Do it all while sitting in a chair. In chair yoga, traditional yoga poses are altered so they can be done in a chair — even in a wheelchair. You will be more confident knowing you are supported by a chair — goodbye fear of falling! — which allows the poses to come more easily to you.
It is quite popular, so you may be able to find a class at your local YMCA. If not, here’s a sample yoga workout by Sparkpeople.com:
Click here for workout details.
Restorative yoga is another great way to gently de-stress your body and mind. A variety of props are used to help the body get into a deep state of relaxation, making it easier to achieve such poses as Child's Pose, Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose and Corpse Pose. If you're in good health and can get down to the mat, you must try restorative yoga!
Try this restorative yoga sequence by Holly Walck, Iyengar yoga teacher.