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You’ve probably heard the term “yoga for seniors” before, but do you know what it’s really all about? Here’s a closer look at the science of yoga and how it can help you age with grace.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a practice that dates back thousands of years and has its roots in Hindu religious practices. It includes physical and mental exercises designed to promote health and well-being. Yoga can be practiced alone or with others, depending on the type of yoga you choose.
The word ‘yoga’ is a Sanskrit word that means ‘unity’. The physical poses that accompany yoga are called asanas. Asanas are meant to strengthen and stretch different parts of the body, as well as the mind.
There are many different types of Yoga, but most people who practice yoga do so for physical benefits, such as flexibility, strength, and endurance. Research has shown that yoga can also have positive psychological benefits, such as lower stress levels and increased confidence.
10 Ways to Use Yoga to Help You Age Gracefully
Let’s take a look at the ten best Yoga practices for healthy aging.
1. Yoga Is an Excellent Way to Get Exercise
It’s important to stay active as we get older, but it’s also hard for many people to find time for regular exercise. As a result, they might start with walking or water aerobics but gradually drop out as life gets busier.
Yoga is different: it offers the same benefits as strength training without making changes to your schedule or adding time away from family and friends. In fact, some studies have found that people who practice yoga are more likely to stick with their exercise programs than those who do not.
2. It Can Help You Achieve a Balanced State of Mind
Yoga is practiced in many different ways, and each style has its own unique philosophy. Some involve deep breathing exercises; others work on flexibility or relaxation.
While these are all valuable tools for living well, yoga also stresses the importance of maintaining good mental health as you age. Your body changes throughout life: your muscles weaken, and their ability to move independently diminishes over time.
Yoga provides you with a variety of tools that can help you maintain your mental health, which is an important part of feeling good and continuing to be active as time goes on.
3. It’s a Low-Impact Exercise that Stays in the Family
Yoga is very accessible to older people, who might have had enough trouble finding the time for exercise when they were younger.
Some studies have found that older people who practice yoga are less likely to have high blood pressure or high cholesterol than those who do not. Many types of yoga are gentle and non-impactful, making them perfect for older bodies.
4. It Can Provide You with Stress Relief
Stress is a genuine issue for many people as they get older, and stress can have a negative impact on your physical health. When you’re stressed, your body releases certain hormones into your blood that can negatively affect your muscles and bones.
Yoga helps you calm down so that you can reset how you experience stress in the first place. In addition, it offers you other tools to cope with stress and cope well with life’s everyday challenges.
5. Yoga Provides Opportunities for Social Interaction
Social interaction is another reason to maintain good mental health as you age: social support is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Older people who practice yoga are more likely to have good social support than those who do not. This makes it easier for them to remain active as they age.
6. Good for Your Heart
Yoga involves a combination of breathing, stretching, and deeper poses. From a physical standpoint, breathing can increase blood flow throughout your entire body and improve cells’ oxygen uptake. This helps you feel more energized and may help provide protection against heart disease.”
A number of studies have linked yoga with reduced risks for heart problems, including coronary artery disease and high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
In fact, one study found that older people who regularly practiced yoga had a 14 percent lower risk for heart attack and death from cardiovascular disease than those who did not.
7. If You Want to Keep Your Bones Hard and Strong, Yoga Is a Great Option
Yoga is great for building strength without causing joint damage, and It’s also great for boosting flexibility. A lot of people mistakenly believe that yoga is a really easy form of exercise. Just take a look at the poses, and you’ll see that it does a lot for your body.”
Older people who regularly practice yoga have lower rates of bone loss than those who do not. Researchers are still trying to determine the exact mechanism that causes this, but studies have found that yoga helps you retain more calcium, which is important for young bones. It also helps you remain strong and flexible as you get older.
8. Yoga Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
In addition to its role in maintaining mental health, yoga is often associated with anti-aging benefits, especially in terms of preventing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Studies have linked yoga with improved blood flow throughout the body and increased levels of oxygen and glucose in the brain. (This helps you maintain mental function.)
The key message here is that we are trying to help our brain adapt to change, and yoga helps us do that in a number of ways. We know that beta-amyloid proteins kill brain cells, but there are also other stressors on our brains, such as oxidative stress, inflammation, and hypoxia.
Yoga reduces the amount of these stressors and can make a big difference in slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. There’s a lot of interest among people with memory issues in doing yoga.
It helps build endurance and strength and increases your sense of balance. This is because yoga has you maintain challenging positions for extended periods while you focus on concentration and maintaining your breath pattern.
We’re just beginning to understand how these interventions benefit us in terms of biomarkers, lifestyle, quality of life, and brain structure.
Despite the general recognition of yoga’s stress-relieving benefits, more studies need to be done to prove conclusively that yoga can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. We don’t know the answer yet, but we think there is a lot of potential.
9. It Can Help You Look Younger
Most important, though, are the so-called “youth” hormones—human growth hormone and DHEA—that might be improved by doing yoga. “When levels of these ‘youth’ hormones in your body decline with age, your skin loses its elasticity and becomes less smooth and supple.
Yoga can help you maintain optimal levels of them.” It can also reduce stress, which may naturally encourage the release of HGH (human growth hormone) in your body.
Growth hormone is released by your pituitary gland in the brain and has its most powerful effects on the cells of your muscles, bones, skin, and organs.
It helps rebuild tissues like skin and muscle after exercise. “Men and women both produce growth hormone naturally; however, as we age, levels of it start to decline.
The good news is that DHEA, another youth hormone that stimulates the production of sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen and helps protect against tissue damage from alcohol abuse or depression(as well as aging), may be boosted by yoga as well.
Studies have shown that people who practice yoga experience an increase in DHEA levels. This is good news for muscles, bone mass, and several other aspects of general health.”
DHEA is also produced in the adrenal glands, which are two triangular-shaped glands that sit just above the kidneys. In fact, the name of these glands comes from the Latin word for ‘adrenal,’ meaning ‘of the kidney.
As we age, many of us are less likely to produce adequate amounts of DHEA, which is a concern because this hormone can help protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. So, yoga may help keep levels of DHEA in the body optimal.
10. It Can Help You Sleep
Yoga is one of a few things that can help slow the adverse changes that occur in our bodies as we age. And if you’re not doing yoga, here’s another reason to start:
It may also help your sleep—and a solid night’s rest is important for keeping you looking and feeling young. In fact, recent studies have revealed that lack of sleep could speed up signs of aging.
When you sleep, your body heals and regenerates; that’s why a good night’s rest is so important.
What are some reasons someone might avoid Yoga?
For some people, one of the biggest roadblocks to practicing yoga regularly is physical discomfort, especially as we age. If you’re starting out with yoga, it can be helpful to take classes with an experienced trainer or teacher who can help guide you through the stretches and poses. It’s also important to start slowly and increase flexibility and strength gradually over time.
Another common excuse for avoiding yoga is that it’s not “physical” enough. In fact, gentle stretching helps boost flexibility and strength, while meditation offers a chance to “reboot” and restore calmness in your day-to-day life.
How do you begin incorporating healthy aging practices into your life?
Start by building on your strengths and starting with what you know. Begin with the basics, such as: stretching, walking more, doing simple exercises like squats and headstands, and trying breathing exercises like slow inhales and exhales. With practice, you will be able to perform more challenging yoga poses that are safe for your body.
As you build a healthy aging routine, consider how to incorporate the best practices from beginner to advanced-level poses. For instance, start by practicing basic stretches and breathing exercises before moving on to other movements and poses that require balance or flexibility. If you do yoga poses for beginners, you will be able to build your strength and flexibility over time.
This list is hardly exhaustive: many people practice yoga for its stress relief or the social aspect. Still, others do it to help them deal with chronic pain, improve their posture, or simply because it feels good.
As long as you’re doing it for your own reasons and are in good health, then yoga can be a great way to help you age gracefully. After all, who doesn’t want to look younger every morning and feel more energized than ever each day? A regular yoga practice can help.