Yoga for elders
One of the things that made yoga such a popular practice is its accessibility. Of course, the advanced stages of yoga may be hard to reach by some people, but the basic principles can be put to good use by any age category. For example, Indians believe that an age of fifty years is perfect for yoga, as the accumulated experience will help them reach higher levels of consciousness.
Yoga practices lead towards a greater union between body and spirit. Perspectives on life and ourselves tend to change as we progress in age. The spiritual side of the world receives more importance as we grow older - this forms an excellent foundation for elderly people to start practicing yoga. Some of the more acrobatic yoga poses are not advisable, of course, but elders can successfully apply most of the breathing and relaxation techniques.
Unfortunately our society is becoming less and less active, as far as physical movement is concerned. Many elders are affected severely by their sedentary lives in which television programs dictate most of the day's schedule. The weakened muscles will become even weaker if they are not used for hours in a row. Just some of the negative side effects of a sedentary life style may include back pain, muscle cramps, weak bones, osteoporosis, joint pain and decreased mobility. The problem is that all these can form a vicious circle in which the elder allows himself to get caught. Yoga may be the solution to the lack of determination and will power that can lead to such a poor life style.
It is important for elders to begin practicing yoga with gentle movements. The whole practice can be formed, for weeks or even months, of only warm up exercises. One of the most important principles of yoga practices for the elderly is gradualism. By taking yoga physical exercises step by step to a higher level they can enjoy strengthened muscles and better blood circulation. Yoga is known as one of the best techniques for massaging muscles and internal organs, a key factor in a healthy and strong organism. Apart from this, yoga also helps oxygenate blood vessels better. This translates not only in increased physical strength, but also in a sharp and focused memory and increased attention span.
While physical exercises may also be replaced by other forms of staying fit, such as gentle jogging or light gym exercises, there is a practice related to yoga that is absolutely vital: breathing. We are not even conscious of our breathing although it is the one keeping us alive. Yoga practices rely heavily on breathing techniques that can improve energy and concentration. An average human being breaths over 2000 times a day - imagine the potential benefits that can be drawn from improving each breath even by 1%. Deep and controlled breathing will help any elder face the problems of old age with a more positive and relaxed attitude.
You don't have to spend years and years of practice in order to enjoy yoga. On the contrary, many elders feel that this is not hard work - it is fun! When practiced correctly yoga is safe and it brings with it numerous positive changes that can turn into joy and vitality no matter what your age is.
For more information check out one of our yoga blogs