Yoga and meditation are two simple activities with seemingly endless benefits for people of all ages. Seniors, in particular, can benefit from the increased mobility and mental resilience offered by these mind-body exercises. Though yoga and meditation used to be considered new-age mumbo jumbo, research continues to discover more and more ways that these wonderful activities can enhance our health. If you’re wondering just how yoga and meditation can benefit you or your senior loved one, keep reading!
Yoga Boosts Your Gut Health
Consistently, research identifies important connections between our gut health and several other essential body systems. For example, inflammation in the gut may interfere with the functions in the brain, triggering mood changes and possibly contributing to anxiety and depression. Fortunately, you can help keep your gut healthy by engaging in physical activity on a regular basis. In one study, participants who exercised for just six weeks experienced an increase in the amount of good bacteria in their gut. Taking steps to improve your gut biome through diet and daily yoga practice can be great for your whole-body health.
Yoga Improves Your Mobility
Yoga is also an exceptional form of exercise for keeping your joints flexible and your muscles strong. This is crucial for maintaining your mobility and reducing your risk of sustaining an injury during your senior years. Even short yoga programs have been found to improve mobility and balance in people over 60, according to Reuters. Yoga can also help reduce pain and stiffness in the body, improving your sleep and allowing you to participate in more activities you enjoy.
Finally, believe it or not, yoga and meditation can actually have an effect on your oral health. You see, depression can cause us to neglect our hygiene, teeth included. When we practice yoga and get control of our negative emotions, we feel better about ourselves, which prompts us to take better care of our overall well-being. So, if you’ve noticed a decline in your oral health because of depression, you can use an online locator to find a dentist to address your teeth and a therapist/counselor to help you work through your problems. Yoga and meditation can act as a supplement.
Meditation Reduces Stress
Both yoga and meditation have amazing stress-busting benefits. Meditation is particularly excellent at banishing anxiety by triggering a relaxation response in the body, and can even improve symptoms of depression. For example, scientists have found that mindfulness meditation reduces levels of inflammatory molecules and stress hormones in the body.
During meditation, you will learn how to control negative thoughts and dismiss them in a non-judgmental way. This may be why meditation is helpful in treating chronic pain and sleep disorders. Additionally, deep breathing during meditation delivers more oxygen to the brain, allowing it to run more efficiently. These relaxing effects translate to full-body benefits. Reducing the body’s anxiety response lowers blood pressure and takes some of the strain off the heart.
How to Get Started with Yoga and Meditation
Starting yoga and meditation with no prior experience is extremely easy. Although you can find plenty of yoga videos online, it’s highly recommended that beginners start by attending a yoga class. Yoga teachers will help you tweak your poses to maximize your benefits and avoid injury. Look for yoga classes on the gentler side, such as Hatha. Some styles of yoga, such as Iyengar and restorative yoga, use props to help people achieve proper alignment and receive all the benefits of the practice regardless of their level of mobility.
If the expense of a class is a concern, you might be eligible for fitness programs through Silver Sneakers if you have a Medicare Advantage plan through a provider like United Healthcare. Review your healthcare coverage to see what resources are available. If you don’t have an Advantage plan, consider converting to one during the next enrollment period so you can enjoy the additional benefits of fitness centers, and vision and dental coverage.
When it comes to meditation, you can take advantage of online recordings to guide you through your first few sessions. Many beginners find it challenging to quiet the mind without a voice or sound to listen to. Try some of these podcasts listed by Lifetime Today for tips on how to meditate as well as guided meditation sessions to follow. Creating a special meditation space in your home can also help your body slip into that state of relaxation a little more easily.
While yoga and meditation can do wonders to improve how you feel on a daily basis, it’s still important to support your health in other ways. Adopt a healthy diet, drink lots of water, get adequate sleep, and keep your mind active by learning new things. Even though it may be a bit more difficult to maintain your mental and physical health as a senior, it’s far from impossible!