Yoga and meditation can benefit seniors in several ways, keeping the mind sharp, reducing anxiety, and preventing injury. The best part is that everyone can enjoy these benefits, whatever your level of mobility or physical fitness. If you’re interested in getting started and enjoying all the wonderful ways that yoga and meditation can enhance your golden years, this is for you!
Reasons to Consider Yoga and Meditation
One of the many great reasons to introduce a daily yoga practice is to boost your overall health. As we age, we’re met with a variety of health-related issues, both mentally and physically. To make matters worse, these issues can sometimes lead to more serious concerns. For example, senior isolation can lead to depression, which, in turn, can cause problems with oral health and malnutrition. Also, seniors frequently don’t follow a healthy diet, which can throw gut health out of balance, leading to trouble with digestion, skin, and moods. Fortunately, yoga and meditation can address a number of different physical and mental concerns that often plague seniors as they age, allowing them to live more fruitful, healthier lives. And while Original Medicare won’t cover the cost of a yoga class, many Medicare Advantage plans will foot the bill for wellness and fitness programs, so check online guides and resources to see if you’re covered.
Find Ways to Stay Motivated
First of all, it’s important to plan how you will stay committed to your practice. It can be difficult to maintain a hobby when you first get started until it becomes a habitual part of your daily routine. To help you stick with yoga and meditation, clean out a room or space in your home where you can practice in comfort without the restriction of furniture or distracting clutter. A dedicated space will keep you motivated to continue your daily practice and even train your mind to relax more easily. If you have a lot of things cluttering your area, consider moving some of your belongings into storage.
Pick the Right Style of Yoga
Before you jump into a random yoga class, take the time to learn about a few types of yoga that may be well-suited to you. For example, Hatha yoga is extremely beginner-friendly and is the perfect style for seniors who are just getting started — all you really need to get started is an affordable and comfortable yoga mat (Walmart has mats for as low as $11.49) This style is slow and introductory-focused. Iyengar yoga is similarly slow and gentle, using the assistance of props to make poses more accessible to seniors. For people who are interested in the spiritual aspects of yoga, Kundalini yoga adds some chanting and meditation to the practice.
Focus on What Feels Good
Yoga is all about moving your body in a way that feels good to you. As Shape puts it, yoga is not about being flexible; instead, it’s about achieving the unique benefits you’re looking for. Even if you can’t touch your toes, improving your flexibility through yoga will help you achieve greater mobility and independence to engage in the activities you love. Plus, many yoga poses work to strengthen your arms and core muscles to provide greater stability and reduce your risk of falls. If you have balance issues or painful joints, chair yoga can help you alleviate pain and improve your range of motion. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced yoga teacher who can bend over backward. Instead, work on adapting your yoga practice to target areas you’d like to improve.
Ease into Meditation Slowly
It can be difficult to sit still and keep your mind clear for an extended period of time if you’re not used to meditating. For this reason, Mindvalley advises that beginners start their practice with just five minutes of meditation each day. You’re much more likely to stick to a meditation practice if you meditate in the morning before you’re bogged down with your daily to-do list. Plus, that way, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of meditation for the rest of the day! For example, meditation helps ease feelings of loneliness, alleviates stress, and reduces chronic pain. Additionally, research has found that meditating improves circulation to give you unrivaled energy and efficient digestion throughout the day.
Set Your Expectations
Before you start each yoga or meditation practice, set intentions for yourself. For example, try working on dismissing negative thoughts, avoiding self-judgment, or being more present. If you need ideas for setting intentions, check out these mantras to help shift yourself into a more positive state of mind before beginning your practice.
Retirement is the perfect time to adopt a new, wellness-centered hobby like yoga or meditation. If you do, you’ll have less stress, improved physical health, and a greater sense of general well-being. Try to make your yoga and meditation practice a daily habit so you can continue to magnify the benefits of these activities as you enjoy your senior years in health and happiness.