Have you ever considered trying yoga? September is Yoga Month, so it might just be the perfect time to give it a go!

What is yoga?

Originating in India around 6 B.C., yoga is a mind, body, and spiritual practice that blends physical poses and breathing exercises to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping participants relax and manage stress and anxiety.

Also called postures, yoga poses are movements intended to increase flexibility and strength. From lying flat on the floor while completely relaxed to complex moves that require intense balance and practice, yoga poses can range from simple to challenging.

Because breath signifies your vital energy, controlled breathing is a key component of yoga. Yoga practitioners believe that controlling your breathing pattern can help you control your body and calm your mind.

There are many styles, forms, and intensities of yoga. A good choice for stress management, hatha yoga is one of the most common styles; its slower pace and easier movements also make it a good choice for beginners and for seniors.

Safe for older adults?

Recent studies in people in their late 40s have determined that yoga is beneficial in reducing chronic low-back pain; but researchers are still studying how yoga may impact senior fitness by safely improving mental and physical health in seniors. In general, classes called things like “Gentle Yoga” or “Yoga for Seniors” are probably safe for most healthy seniors when practiced under the guidance of a trained instructor.

Older adults should be sure to talk to their healthcare provider before beginning yoga if they have any of the following:

  • A herniated disk
  • A risk of blood clots
  • Eye conditions, including glaucoma
  • Severe balance problems
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Uncontrolled blood pressure

Even with these conditions, seniors may still be able to do yoga if they take precautions, such as avoiding certain poses or stretches.

Here are some tips from the National Institute on Aging for seniors who are interested in beginning the practice of yoga >>

Benefits of yoga

There are several proven benefits for people who practice yoga regularly:

Stress reduction

Several studies have determined that yoga can help lower stress and anxiety. It can also enhance participants’ mood and overall sense of well-being.

Improved physical fitness

Practicing yoga can improve balance, flexibility, range of motion, and strength, which means you’re less likely to injure yourself in other physical activities or in your daily routine.

Management of chronic conditions
Yoga can help lower risk factors for chronic diseases like heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga may also improve some chronic conditions including depression, pain, anxiety, and insomnia.

If you are an older adult who is in good health and would like to try yoga, check for yoga studios in your area or call a local senior center to find out if they have classes. If you live in a retirement community such as a CCRC or lifecare community consult the facility’s fitness center to see if they offer classes.

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