Yoga for Seniors
One thing which makes yoga so popular is its value and ease of access to people of all walks of life...and ages.
Of course, the more advanced stages and postures of yoga may be difficult to achieve for some people, but the basic principles can be put to good use by almost any person in any age category. For example, yogis in India tend to believe that fifty is a perfect age for yoga, as the accumulated experience will help the practitioner reach higher levels of consciousness.
At any age, the practice of yoga can lead to a greater union and balance between body and spirit. As we age, perspectives on life in general, and ourselves in particular, tend to change. For many of us, spiritual aspects of our world and life begins to receive more importance as we age. For seniors, this often forms an excellent foundation for the start of a yoga practice.
Of course, some of the more acrobatic yoga poses are not recommended, at least in the beginning stages of yoga for seniors, at least at first, but older practitioners can successfully apply most of the breathing and relaxation techniques and can, in most instances, effectively do modified versions of the normal poses (asanas).
Unfortunately our society is becoming less and less active, as far as physical movement is concerned. Many seniors are affected severely by their sedentary lives in which television programs dictate most of the day's schedule. The weakened muscles will become even weaker if they are not used for hours in a row. Just some of the negative side effects of a sedentary life style may include back pain, muscle cramps, weak bones, osteoporosis, joint pain and decreased mobility. The problem is that all these can form a vicious circle in which the senior allows himself to get caught. Yoga may be the solution to the lack of determination and will power that can lead to such a poor life style.
It is important for seniors to begin practicing yoga with gentle movements. In fact, for weeks, or even months, the entire yoga session can be made up of only warm up exercises.
One of the most important principles of yoga for seniors is what I guess could be called "gradualism".
By taking the physical exercises of yoga step by step to a higher level they can enjoy strengthened muscles and better blood circulation without pain or injury. Yoga is known as one of the best techniques for massaging muscles and internal organs, a key factor in a healthy and strong organism. Apart from this, yoga also helps oxygenate blood vessels better. This translates not only in increased physical strength, but also in a sharp and focused memory and increased attention span.
While, for seniors, physical exercises may also be replaced by other forms of staying fit, such as gentle jogging or light gym exercises, there is a practice related to yoga that is absolutely vital: breathing.
Most of us are not even conscious of our breathing although it is the one most important act which keeps us alive. Yoga practices rely heavily on breathing techniques that can improve energy and concentration. An average person breathes over 2000 times a day. Imagine the potential health benefits that can be derived just by improving each breath by as little as 1%.
Deep and controlled breathing will help any elder face the problems of old age with a more positive and relaxed attitude.
You don't have to spend years and years of practice in order to enjoy yoga. On the contrary, many seniors feel that this is not hard work - it is fun! When practiced correctly yoga is safe and it brings with it numerous positive changes that can turn into joy and vitality no matter what your age.