If you’re looking for a wellness practice that benefits mind, body and spirit, yoga or meditation may be the answer. Neither of these practices are hard to learn, nor do they require a large space or special equipment. Yoga for seniors can be modified and adapted for any age and ability. And to meditate, you simply need a quiet space and time to yourself.
Stress and Your Immune System
Your body’s response to stress can happen at two levels. There’s the “fight-or-flight” response when you feel threatened or scared, and which dissipates when the situation is over. There’s also a chronic response to stress that happens over a longer period of time, for example when you worry about a loved one, your health or financial security. Long-term stress isn’t good for you; it will overtax your immune system and lead to an increase in bodily inflammation. High levels of inflammation increase our risk for serious diseases, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and depression.
How Yoga and Meditation Help
Both yoga and meditation have been shown to have a positive effect on psychological stress. They offer a way to create a “mind-body” connection that has a calming effect on the mind and spirit, as well as anti-inflammatory effects.
Yoga’s physicality challenges strength, flexibility and balance while it teaches breath control. As you move through prone and standing yoga poses — called “asanas” — you’re working on functional movements such as stretching, turning and squatting. Coordinating your breathing as you flow from one asana to another calms the nervous system and reconnects you with your body.
Meditation won’t make you sweat. However, many people find meditation more difficult than exercise. The techniques train your brain’s awareness and quiet its constant chatter. As you learn how to build mindfulness from moment to moment, you’re reducing anxiety about the past or the future, and increasing your brain’s efficiency and resilience.
Give Yoga for Seniors a Try
There are different styles of yoga, and it’s worth giving a few of them a try to see which one you like best. Some are more energetic, such as Vinyasa yoga, with movements calling for more strength and endurance. Yoga for seniors is usually slower and more deliberate. Chair yoga is a good example of yoga for seniors with limited mobility. Many seniors also like the slower pace of a style called Iyengar yoga, where the use of straps and blocks helps with stretching and relaxation.
Give Meditation a Try
You can practice meditation yourself, starting with one to two minutes a day, and over a few weeks gradually increasing to 20+ minutes a day. Different styles of meditation suit different people. Breath meditation teaches you to stay in the present through an awareness of your breathing. Loving-kindness meditation builds compassion and acceptance of yourself and others. Walking meditation uses the repetitive movement of setting your foot down and picking it up to focus your thoughts.
How to Start Meditation and Yoga for Seniors
Online classes for yoga or meditation are an excellent starting point for beginners, but you may prefer to start in a supervised class setting. For the most part, these activities are low-risk and largely beneficial. However, they’re not for everybody. Be aware that meditation can cause old memories and emotions to surface. Senior yoga may aggravate an existing health condition or injury. Always talk to your doctor before getting started, particularly if you have questions or concerns.
Find the Benefits of Yoga for Seniors and More at The Marshes
The independent lifestyle at The Marshes of Skidaway Island offers you time to explore your interests and embrace wellness in all aspects of your life. And knowing there is a full continuum of on-site care greatly lessens worries about the future, so you can truly focus on the present. Contact us to learn more about our wellness activities or to join us for a meditation class or yoga for seniors with our friendly instructors.