As we get older, what we can and should do for exercise can change, but one thing that can continue throughout your active life is yoga.
Yoga has several health benefits for older adults, including maintaining healthy bones, improving flexibility, relieving stress and anxiety not to mention improved mood and aging gracefully.
Although getting older comes with many gifts- maturity, grace, wisdom, experience, and perspective, to name a few- growing older can also bring on many challenges. As we age, we become more susceptible to joint stress, osteoarthritis, weight gain and various cardiovascular diseases. Psychologically and emotionally, older adults begin to experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, loneliness and other mental health disorders. Memory can decline, balance can be impaired, and with that, self-efficacy can suffer. Yoga can offer a wide array of physical and mental health benefits which can assist in preventing injury and disease.
Many yoga poses focus on balance and stability, both incredibly important as we age. Strengthening muscles and improving balance prevents the likelihood of falls, which can be a common concern. Not only can it prevent falls from happening, but an increase in strength and stability can also help to bounce back and recover, should a fall occur. Flexibility exercises offered in yoga can help increase joint range of motion, which can help especially if your joints feel achy or stiff.
Another benefit of yoga is that it encourages mindfulness and focus on breath. As we practice yoga, we and become more mindful of not just our physical bodies, we also become more connected to and mindful of our thoughts, feelings, emotions and the environment around us. Yoga practices are generally calm and restorative in nature, focusing on breath and slow movements, which help trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. This can help reduce the byproducts of stress and anxiety. It can also help to lower blood pressure, which can decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. When practiced regularly, yoga can reduce the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response, which can cause inflammation of all kinds and wreak havoc on our minds and bodies.
MacEwan University offers several older adult fitness classes that incorporate mind body practices, including yoga poses. If you are inexperienced with yoga practice, our class instructors can modify the poses to match your current ability and/or provide the use of chairs and props to make the poses more accessible if necessary.