Yoga for Seniors By Harry Cline

5 Questions Seniors Have About Yoga and Meditation

 A few years ago, it would have been normal for you to be only marginally aware of the existence of yoga and meditation. Now, they are mainstream. This has allowed them to become more accessible to groups that may have ignored yoga and meditation before, such as seniors.

 However, while most seniors may have heard of yoga and meditation, many will still wonder how exactly these practices are supposed to benefit them. In this article, we hope to answer some of the basic questions that seniors and their carers might have on the subject.

 What Are Yoga and Meditation?

 Yoga and meditation are two ancient spiritual practices originating in Hinduism. Both are similar and interlinked, in that yoga was originally developed as an aid for meditation. In the spiritual sense, meditation aims to achieve enlightenment, and yoga can help in this journey.

However, in the West, many people practice yoga as a form of exercise and do meditation for stress relief. Whether you choose to engage with the spiritual side is ultimately up to you, but it is respectful to inform yourself about the cultural roots of what you are undertaking.

 Can I Afford It?

 Yes! Both yoga and meditation can be practiced for free thanks to the thousands of guided videos available for free online. All you need is a clear space in your home and a yoga mat — and for some senior-friendly routines like chair yoga, not even that. Search “yoga routine for seniors” or “guided meditation” and explore from there.

 Alternatively, you could look into classes. Going to a class has the benefit of helping you socialize and meet new people, as well as be supervised by a professional. Some Medicare Advantage plans cover yoga classes at fitness centers, including some plans from UnitedHealthcare. You can use a Medicare plan finder to locate them.

 How Can They Help Me?

 There are so many wonderful benefits to yoga and meditation for seniors. Let’s start with yoga, which incorporates flexibility, balance, and muscle toning for a powerful cocktail of physical benefits. As highlighted by the AARP, it is especially beneficial as you age by strengthening bones and muscles that tend to naturally weaken, helping with weight management, keeping the mind sharp, and reducing stress (thus preventing hypertension).

 The benefits of meditation tend to be in the mind, but are no less impactful. In particular, some experts believe that learning to anchor yourself in the present moment can be a huge source of comfort and well-being for seniors, who tend to spend a lot of time worrying about the future. This stress-busting effect also comes with physical benefits, including decreased muscle tension, improved immunity, and better heart health.

 Is Yoga Safe?

 There is a misconception that yoga can lead to injury. This probably comes from the fact that most yoga you see is very bendy and athletic. However, that’s not what yoga is about at all. When you practice yoga, you only make movements that feel good or comfortable. You should never push yourself, and there are always easier variations you can take if a certain pose is too hard. Yoga U explains this very well in their article on the subject.

 Isn’t Meditation Hard?

 The idea of “emptying your mind” is appealing, but many people feel like there is no way they could achieve it. They may even try meditation once, fail at emptying their thoughts, and think they just don’t have what it takes. However, meditation is a practice, which means that no one achieves it on the very first try. According to Mindworks, there are both short-term and long-term benefits to meditation. It may take some weeks or months of regular practice before you feel like you are getting anywhere — and that’s perfectly okay.

 Yoga and meditation have the potential to help seniors lead longer, healthier, and happier lives. They do not require massive levels of commitment in terms of time or money — all you need to do is practice them regularly and keep showing up for yourself. The more you do, the sooner you will start to notice the tangible effects that both practices can have on your health.