contributed by Harry Cline
Yoga and meditation are no longer obscure
spiritual practices reserved in the West for the young and trendy. They have
entered the mainstream, and this shift has enabled more diverse groups of
people to appreciate and enjoy the benefits. Seniors are one of the groups who
could benefit the most from yoga and meditation, so don’t let your preconceived
ideas about the practices get in the way of your health and self-improvement.
Here are four reasons you should take them both up now, regardless of your age.
Yoga Is a Perfect Exercise for Seniors
The biggest misconception about yoga is that it’s all about contorting yourself into impossible shapes. While some advanced yoga practitioners do enjoy the challenge of twisting themselves into difficult poses, yoga is a lot broader than its popular image allows.
For one, it is endlessly variable. There are various types of yoga, within which there is an almost infinite combination of styles and poses. Seniors can start with simple, gentle flows and build on them as they improve, which means that there will always be new challenges. However, the benefits of yoga for seniors are even more specific. Yoga has been shown to improve strength, flexibility, gut health (which can affect everything from our moods to our skin), and balance, all of which are areas that seniors should focus on. It is low-impact, making it ideal for weak joints, and is perfectly safe as long as you follow some key tips.
Yoga and Meditation Are Great for Mental and Physical Health
Research has shown that both yoga and meditation are effective in combating symptoms of depression, which can lead to serious conditions like oral health diseases, increased sensitivity to pain, and a weakened immune system. The practices are similar in their execution and effects, with the main difference being that yoga doubles as a form of exercise (which in itself is beneficial for mental health). However, meditation is particularly useful because it can be practiced anywhere and at any time, making it a more immediately accessible tool than yoga.
Both meditation and yoga involve practicing mindfulness, which strengthens the mind-body connection and can help you feel more at ease with your body, thoughts, and emotions. With their focus on deep breathing and concentration, they can help you clear your mind in the short term while building a strong foundation for good mental health in the long run.
In terms of physical health, yoga can increase the amount of good bacteria in your gut. This is important, because research shows that a healthy gut means improved digestive and immune systems, as well as mood levels. The more you exercise, the less stressed you feel, and the more good bacteria you feed your body. Therefore, yoga can boost both your health and happiness.
Meditation Can Help Keep You Sharp
Meditation comes with a host of cognitive benefits that are useful for seniors. According to Mindworks, meditation can slow the progress of dementia as well as improve memory, focus, and creativity. A regular practice can help keep your mind sharp and alert well into old age, with even a short daily meditation session showing wonderful results.
You Can Start for Free
One of the best things about yoga and meditation is just how easy technology has made it necessary to enjoy them. There are thousands of guided meditations available on the internet, from YouTube videos to entire apps dedicated to finding the perfect meditation for you. This list by Psycom has brought together some of the best online resources.
As for yoga, it is a prime example of the ways in which technology has made it easier for seniors to work out at home through online videos, fitness trackers, and console games. YouTube is a particularly useful resource, with countless free yoga routines that you can easily follow from the comfort of your living room. You don’t even need to invest in a yoga mat to start with; chair yoga is a great option, and it is ideal for seniors who are scared of injuring themselves.
Yoga and meditation have become common facets of self-care. More and more people are opening themselves up to these practices, but there are many people who still need convincing. The reasons listed above are just the most obvious and proven arguments for trying yoga and meditation as a senior, but there are many more: a sense of community, the challenge of a new hobby, and the potential for spiritual awakening are all also appealing reasons to get started.
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