Wellbeing | How yoga can benefit seniors

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Yoga has long been attributed to wellbeing and health with new research pointing to the significant benefits to seniors.

Judging from the images in magazines and social media accounts, one would assume that the ancient practice of yoga is only for the bold, young and beautiful. For years, however, people in the latter stages of their lives use yoga to increase flexibility, relieve anxiety and mental focus.

According to the British Psychological Society, practicing yoga may help improve memory and ability to listen clearly. Repetitive breathing practices in yoga can also help calm the mind, allowing better mental clarity and focus.

As we get older, we tend to suffer more aches and pains. Through yoga, you are moving your circulatory system and awakening the nervous system – both of which can help counteract those complaints.

Studies have shown that yoga may be helpful in reducing heart rate and blood pressure. One study outlined how people who practiced yoga saw their blood pressure drop by five points, their LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) fall by 12 points, and their weight drop by five pounds.

As we age, we are more aware of the risks associated with bad movements. No one wants to pull a muscle by doing a simple yoga stretch wrong. It has been found that as long as people start yoga at the right level, don’t progress too fast and make appropriate modifications then all risks can be managed and avoided.

A study from Aging & Mental Health reports that yoga has shown to offset the “negative effects of ageing, improve physical functioning, postpone disability, decrease morbidity and mortality, stimulate the mind, and increase hope, reducing the risk of anxiety and depression.”

Many local community centres now offer yoga classes tailored for seniors. Ensure you tell your teacher if you suffer from any alignments or specific condition before you start a class.