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  • Getting Started with Yoga and Meditation

    Getting Started with Yoga and Meditation


    Yoga and meditation each provide phenomenal support to overall well-being at any age. For seniors in particular, yoga is a low-impact exercise that has the added benefits of aiding flexibility and balance while encouraging healthy lifestyles. Mindfulness, either through yoga practice or during meditation, provides another layer of support to mental, emotional and physical health. It’s never too late to get started with yoga and meditation. Here are some tips to start your journey to self-knowledge and flexibility.


    Yoga can target ailments common as we age


    Joint pain and arthritis are common among seniors. Yoga helps alleviate these conditions, because yoga isn’t just an exercise - it is a practice. The practice of yoga encourages mindfulness that extends beyond the poses into the life of the person who is doing the exercises. Yoga’s mindfulness adds a stream of positivity throughout one’s life. Those who practice yoga tend to follow healthier diets, and incorporate additional exercises into their daily routines. 


    Yoga can be done almost anywhere


    Starting a new exercise regimen like yoga may bring to mind difficult classes and time and financial commitments. Many yoga poses are simple and can be done right where you stand. Chair yoga even brings parts of yoga practice to anyone with balance concerns. A perfect way to slowly introduce your body to the practice, chair yoga has many of the benefits of traditional yoga. It helps reduce stress and alleviate pain and fatigue. Some chair yoga poses include:

    • Seated mountain, which activates your core.
    • Warrior I, which reinforces good posture while reaching for the ceiling.
    • Seated forward bend, a pose that introduces light bending into core-strengthening movements.
    • Reverse arm hold, which is a routine part of traditional practice that develops upper arm flexibility and supports shoulder health.


    Not all yoga poses twist your body into pretzel shapes


    Many traditional yoga poses are more about stability, breathing and posture, and less about getting all tied up in a contortionist’s knot. Beginner poses focus on light stretching and serene comfort. The following are perfect beginner moves:

    • Standing mountain pose.
    • Child’s pose. This basic pose resembles sitting on the floor while bowing your body and arms forward, as in a prayer.
    • Warrior II. Similar to the seated Warrior I pose, this movement develops balance by having you turn sideways while stretching your arms out - one in front and the other pointing backwards.
    • Tree pose. A little more advanced, as it has you lift one of your legs off the ground, tree pose is the ultimate beginner’s movement for balance and posture.


    Yoga can be done at home


    Although the practice of yoga can be done in a chair or just with a little floorspace, as you advance through practice, you may find that you prefer a little more room to flex, move and try new poses. As far as exercises go, yoga requires only a small investment in equipment, so it’s easy and affordable to create a simple home yoga studio.


    The most important thing to remember is that yoga requires calmness. In our busy lives, serenity may be hard to come by. Wherever you choose to locate your home yoga studio, make sure it is a quiet and clutter-free space. When decorating, think minimalism and light colors. Natural light is helpful, as are some other natural elements such as a plant or a small fountain.


    Done right, your yoga space can double as a meditation room, where you’ll be able to benefit from mindfulness even when you are not planning on doing any yoga moves. Beyond the physical and stress-reducing effects of yoga, meditation is highly beneficial to seniors in areas of mental health, including strengthening cognition.


    Yoga and meditation help older adults thrive physically and mentally. Both encourage healthy living in a sustainable, unobtrusive way that fits well with any senior’s lifestyle.


    Harry Cline | info@newcaregiver.org


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