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Why You Should Start Practicing Yoga for Seniors

The practice of yoga dates back to ancient India where it was performed as a way to cultivate positivity, calmness, and relaxation. These benefits of yoga are still available today, and as we learn more about the practice, we also discover how it benefits the body as well. Yoga is characterized by intentional breaths, deep stretches, and poses that cultivate strength and flexibility.

Life can be stressful for our minds and our bodies, so as we get older, it becomes essential to take care of ourselves by engaging in relaxing activities that promote our physical and mental health. Whether you’ve done yoga before, or are a beginner, there are many reasons to start practicing yoga today.


Mental Benefits of Yoga

When you think of yoga, you may think of the physical health benefits such as strength, flexibility, and exercise. The mental health benefits of yoga can be fulfilling as well and are important for promoting mental health and wellbeing as we age.


Yoga Reduces Stress

It is no secret that life can be stressful. Luckily, there are many ways to cope with and relieve stress. Whether you cope with stress by journaling, exercising, visiting a support group, or taking advantage of the stress-reducing benefits of hemp, it’s important to find a way to cope with stress that works best for you.

The most popular mental health benefits of yoga are its ability to reduce stress and promote calmness and serenity. Performing yoga acts as a self-soothing mechanism to relax the stress response in our bodies and calm the nervous system. Our bodies decrease the amount of the stress hormone called cortisol to help promote balance and relaxation instead.

If you struggle with difficult feelings of stress or are feeling overwhelmed, consider using an ingestible form of hemp such as our Hemp Extract Gummies or Tincture. The therapeutic benefits of hemp may help promote relaxation and produce a calming effect. Chew and swallow one hemp gummy until fully dissolved before practicing yoga for extra stress relief.  


Yoga Improves Sleep

The stress-reducing benefits of yoga also extend to sleep. Stress is one of the leading causes of sleep deprivation in the United States. When we feel worried or overwhelmed by a situation or event, we may not be able to control the racing thoughts in our minds that keep us awake. In addition, stress can make us feel hyper-alert, which may not let our minds and bodies relax when it’s time to sleep.

Getting adequate sleep is essential to health. Yoga is a great practice as it promotes stress relief and management by soothing the stress response, lowering the levels of cortisol that signal stress, quieting racing thoughts, and letting our minds relax so we can fall asleep.


Yoga Supports Emotional Health

Emotional health is an important aspect of mental health. It is characterized by self-awareness, or the ability to understand and process your thoughts and feelings while also understanding the feelings of others. Emotional health requires meditation, and reflection on a regular basis, so yoga is a great way to cultivate emotional health.


Physical Benefits of Yoga

In addition to the benefits of yoga for our mental wellbeing and emotional health, it also promotes physical health.


Yoga Promotes Strength

When you think of exercises for strength, you may think of weightlifting, resistance exercise, cross-fit, or high-intensity interval training. Yoga probably doesn’t come to mind, but it’s actually one of the easiest forms of strength training. It is low-impact and doesn’t require a high range of motion.


Yoga Promotes Flexibility

Flexibility is a quality that requires regular practice. As we get older, we may stretch less often, and we may have a more limited range of motion. Yoga can be an easy solution for this. The entire practice is based on the idea of flexibility, stretching, and loosening up the muscles to achieve poses and certain positions.

Yoga can also reduce aches and pain, which can increase your range of motion and allows for more movement. Flexibility is built gradually, so when you begin practicing yoga, don’t try a stretch or position if it’s too painful. Your flexibility will develop gradually, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a few sessions to notice an improvement.


Yoga is a Great Form of Exercise for Everyone

Yoga is a great form of exercise for the body. Yoga is low-impact and gentle on joints and muscles. If you are experiencing joint pain, practicing yoga is a great option as its movements are slow and controlled instead of harsh and quick.

You can also practice yoga from just about anywhere. If you want to perform yoga from the comfort of your own home, grab a mat and start moving. If you have an increased risk of falling or have difficulty balancing, you can even practice yoga poses from a chair to ensure safety.

Whether you have years of experience in the world of yoga or are just beginning to learn more, yoga is a great form of exercise and has benefits for everyone.


Yoga Improves Posture

Another benefit of yoga for older adults is that it improves posture. Posture is an essential aspect of balance. If you have poor posture, your balance can be affected even during activities as simple as walking and standing.

In addition to dim lighting at night and tripping hazards, loss of balance is one of the leading causes of falls in senior adults. Yoga is a great exercise to build balance by improving posture!


Yoga can Help Soothe Pain

Many older adults live with joint discomfort and back pain.  Studies have shown the pain-relieving effects of yoga for joint pain as yoga helps stretch muscle fibers and loosen tense areas. This can help increase blood flow and circulation, and ease tension and discomfort. It also can improve mobility over a period of time.

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Yoga Poses to Try

The benefits of yoga are widespread and can improve every aspect of health. If you’re unfamiliar with yoga poses, don’t worry. Here are some of our favorite basic yoga poses to try.


Child’s Pose

The child’s pose is a basic yoga pose often introduced to beginners. This pose is calming and helps you rest and relax before trying other poses. This pose loosens the muscles in the lower back, thighs, hips, knees, and spine to promote pain relief.

To perform the child’s pose, sit on a yoga mat on your knees. Bring your upper body down so your chest rests on your knees and reach your arms out on the floor in front of you. Try to walk your arms forward to deepen the stretch in your back and breathe deeply and slowly throughout.

If you have knee or ankle injuries or have high blood pressure, avoid this pose. You can also use a yoga block or a pillow to cushion your head while doing this pose, especially if you can’t reach your head down to the mat.


Downward-Facing Dog

This yoga pose helps to strengthen the upper body and promotes flexibility in the lower body as it stretches the hamstrings, calves, and feet. If you have back pain, this pose may be effective in offering relief.

To perform this pose, stand straight up at the end of your mat. Bring your arms down, bending your knees, and walk your body forward until your legs and arms are straight. At this point, your body will be bent down in the middle and should be shaped like a triangle. Lean your head inward to deepen the stretch. Be sure to breathe deeply and slowly throughout the stretch.

If your wrists are weak or have carpal tunnel issues, you may want to avoid this pose as much of your body weight will rest on your wrists.


Plank Pose

This yoga pose promotes abdominal strength, upper body strength, and is great for balance and posture. To do this stretch, lay down on your mat so you’re facing the floor. Lift your body up onto your arms or elbows so you’re in a planking position. Your body should be straight. Breathe deeply throughout this pose and slowly lower yourself back down when you’re finished.

Wrist problems could also lead to injury with this pose, so be cautious if you have carpel tunnel or weaker wrists. You can also scale this yoga pose down by resting on your knees instead of your feet.


Tree Pose

The tree pose helps support balance, posture, and abdominal strength. To perform this yoga pose, stand up straight with both feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your right leg and place it on the inside of your leg thigh. Next, bring both hands in front of you and place them together so your palms lay flat against one another. Breathe deeply and focus on stability and strength.

If you have trouble balancing, consider performing this pose near a wall or counter to grab onto if you lose balance.


Summary

Yoga is an exercise that promotes strong mind and body connection. It helps reduce stress, build confidence, emotional health, and improve sleep. It also supports strength, mobility, and relief of joint pain and discomfort.

Whether you have trouble balancing, have joint pain, or have a smaller range of motion than you used to, yoga may be able to help. Grab a yoga mat and get started today.

 

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Sources:

Yoga | MHA National

Stress Management | Mayo Clinic

Stress & Sleep Issues | Sleep Foundation

Why You Should Try Yoga | URMC

Why Good Posture Matters | Harvard Health

Yoga & A Healthy Balance | NCBI

Yoga Poses to Try | Yoga Journal