Yoga’s rise in popularity with baby boomers is a revealing insight into its benefits on health. As yoga becomes more widely practised, there is increasing data on the exercises positive effect to not only physical health but also mental and emotional well-being. The results of one study highlight the positive impact of yoga on biomarkers of cellular ageing and longevity.
Yoga practice has been shown to:
The gripping panic that goes hand in hand with a fear of falling is all too familiar for many of us, especially those who have experienced a fall before. Falling is the leading cause of injury-related fatalities amongst adults and as you age can also lead to hip and other bone fractures, immobility, and the inability to live on your own any longer.
The poses and gentle flowing stretches of yoga, even chair yoga, help restore much-needed balance and coordination skills, as well as hones flexibility of key muscle groups which you use to catch and correct yourself to stop from falling.
Strengthen Bones & Muscles
Combined with a healthy calcium intake, yoga practice has been shown to help build bone density which is especially pertinent for a growing number of Kiwi’s with osteoporosis. Various movements and body positions also help tone and build muscle mass which can so easily degenerate as you get older.
Pumping up the blood flow in your body is key to carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to critical muscles, nerves, and organs as well as to flushing out built up waste by-products and toxins. While yoga practice seems low-key, the combination of deep breathing, stretching, and transitioning between poses will have you breaking a sweat quicker than you think.
Relieve Common Pains
Is joint inflammation from arthritis preventing you from doing the things you love? Does chronic low back, knee, or hip flexor pain seem to follow you wherever you go? Yoga practice is a low-impact activity that helps loosen stiff joints, gently stretches tense muscles, and reduces inflammation all over the body. Click for more info on hip flexor pain.
Reduce Risk of Disease
As a regular exercise habit which accompanies healthy eating and other healthy behaviours (like not smoking, avoiding excessive drinking, etc.), yoga practice can help reduce your risk of developing myriad conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
Alleviate Emotional Stress
The mindful meditation and deep breathing of yoga practice play an important role in helping yogis, alleviate feelings of stress. Facilitating positive thoughts and ideas as well as zeroing in on key yoga principles like kindness, peace, and self-awareness can help you tackle all too familiar emotions of stress, anxiety and depression.
Foster Social Interaction
Too often people isolate themselves socially because they fear being a burden on others or they lack the mobility and confidence they once had to get out and stay active. Taking a yoga class with others offers a prime way for older adults to engage and interact with friends, and potentially even make new ones.
Reinforce Brain Health
Any exercise or activity which requires someone to learn something new, i.e. the poses and foundational principles of yoga, reinforces brain health by stimulating cognitive activity and strengthening the way brain cells communicate. For those of us who are at higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, this positive health impact is crucial. The spike in blood flow also circulates important nutrients to the brain to help it stay sharp and strong.
Promote Good Posture
A lifetime of bad posture habits has many of us hunching, slumping, and unable to sit up straight. Yoga practice helps reverse these bad habits by lengthening the spine and stretching and strengthening core and back muscles to support healthy spine alignment. Good posture then cyclically feeds into better breathing, less back pain, and better circulation.
Getting started with yoga practice is easier than ever, with a large number of classes avalibable as well as gyms and boutique yoga studios tailoring wider offerings to an older audience. Free online resources like DoYogaWithMe.com and YogaFinder.com can help you and your loved ones get started on their yoga journey.