Benefits of yoga for older people

It is a fact that we are living longer these days, but it is also true that we are not living healthier lives. Yoga can be very beneficial, however, to keep older people healthy.

Many people in their later years are living with a range of preventable health issues, such as:

  • Reduced mobility
  • Arthritis, or joint stiffness
  • Chronic pain
  • Osteoporosis
  • Poor circulation
  • High blood pressure
  • Stress
  • Poor sleep
  • Falling, due to poor mobility and balance

There are many possible solutions to these issues:

  • Medication
  • Exercise
  • Diet

But have you considered Yoga as an effective way to combat the effects of ageing in a holistic and gentle way?

What would a yoga class for the older person be like?

A typical yoga class for the elderly would include:

•         Gentle, supported Asanas (yoga poses)

•         Deep breathing exercises

•         Relaxation session

The Poses

Practiced under the guidance of a qualified teacher, the Poses help improve joint mobility and flexibility, thereby reducing the incidence of falls and also of the pain associated with stiffness and lack of use

Weight-bearing exercise is important in maintaining bone density and strength and keeping muscles toned also helps maintain bone health

Blood circulation is improved by exercise, even gentle yoga postures. Increased circulation affects mental alertness, as well as the physical effects of getting more oxygen to the muscles and organs, improving their function

The breathing exercises

The breathing exercises help reduce stress, offering a sense of inner calm and mental alertness. By teaching deep breathing, more oxygen circulates around the body, bringing better health and efficiency to tissues and organs and helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure

The relaxation session

The relaxation session at the end of a class further reduces stress and gives a sense of well-being

The results of Yoga for the ageing

People who practice Yoga regularly report better overall health, improved sleep and reduced reliance on medications (in consultation with their doctors)

How to find the right yoga teacher for the older person

Make sure that they are well-qualified and have an understanding of any health issues you may be suffering from, in order that they can modify the practice to suit your individual needs

What type of yoga is suitable for the ageing?

There are many different forms of Yoga around these days and it can be confusing. While practices like Iyengar Yoga are well suited to the elderly, with their use of Iyengar props, which make the poses accessible to all, many other forms are also suitable. As with everything else these days, shop around until you find the teacher/class that best suits you.

What equipment is used for Yoga?

This does vary by the type of yoga undertaken and the individual yoga teacher, but below is a general guide to what you may need:

  • Yoga mat
  • Yoga blocks and bricks
  • Bolsters
  • Loose fitting yoga trousers

Research into the benefits of yoga for the older person

Around the world, research is being conducted into the positive benefits of Yoga and its effectiveness in reducing the ailments which plague the elderly

Early research from Temple University’s Department of Podiatric medicine claims that after only nine weeks of twice-weekly Iyengar Yoga sessions, elderly women had greater ankle and foot mobility, resulting in greater confidence and fewer falls

The Harbor-UCLA Medical Centre (Gaur, 2002) study reported a reduction in chronic pain and a lowering of anxiety with consequent improvement in overall mood in its yoga participants

A reduction in breathing difficulties was found in the research of Nagarathna , Nagendra and Seethalakshmi (1991).

The Indian Journal of Medical Research, Manjunath and Telles (2005) reported improved sleep in those who practiced two one hour sessions of Yoga per week

Damodoran, Malathi, Patil, Shah, Suryavanishi and Marathe (2002) wrote about their research into the therapeutic potential in modifying cardiovascular risk profile in the Journal of the Association of Indian Physicians

Current research is being undertaken by Dr. Anne Tiedmann at Sydney University and the George Institute for Global Health into the effect of twice weekly yoga sessions on mobility and fall prevention – find a class in your area




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