Holistic Healing: The Benefits of Yoga and Meditation for Seniors and Caregivers
Medical science has embraced yoga and meditation for the benefits they confer on seniors and their caregivers. Doctors in increasing numbers are recommending yoga to their patients over 50 to help reduce blood pressure, relieve pain, and improve balance. Seniors who are initially skeptical often find the benefits of yoga and meditation can help them in ways they never imagined. Older adults frequently find yoga improves muscle and joint flexibility, enhances their mood, and alleviates stress and anxiety. And while elderly bodies aren’t always up to the physical discipline of yoga, its tremendous mental and emotional value can still be derived from classes adapted to the physical restrictions that often limit a senior’s movements.
Consult your physician
Always use common sense if you’re a senior getting started with yoga. Consult your physician if you’re a cardiac patient, have undergone surgery, or are taking medications. If you have osteoporosis, be aware there are certain yoga movements you shouldn’t attempt in order to avoid fracture.
Older adults are sometimes put off by images of young, lithe people bending their bodies into pretzel-like shapes. But yoga is gaining broad appeal as more elderly people find that it isn’t just for the young and flexible. Yoga, even a few minutes a day, not only improves physical flexibility, it enhances cognitive functioning, bolsters cardiovascular health, and can even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Seniors with a limited range of movement have been known to make remarkable improvements and gain an amazing degree of flexibility.
Find a yoga that suits you
There’s no one uniform version of yoga, but different kinds from “hot” to “gentle.” If your doctor has prescribed yoga, it’s important to begin by speaking with an instructor to determine what level of intensity is suitable based on your overall condition and physical fitness. Bear in mind that “chair” yoga and other low-impact versions are very popular with seniors and offer the same benefits as “traditional” forms.
The benefits of meditation mirror those of yoga, which is, to a large extent, a mental discipline as well as a series of physical poses. It’s especially valuable for caregivers because meditation offers invaluable mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits that can alleviate the stress under which caregivers labor. Find a space that relaxes you and offers solitude—a haven where you can focus your thoughts, free of distractions. It should be a meditation room where light can be kept to a minimum and where you’re able to fully relax. Light scented candles and play soothing music to maximize the effect.
More than a workout
Yoga is much more than a physical activity: It’s a holistic form of mind-body medicine that improves mood and overall health—a combination of poses, meditation, and deep breathing that combine to integrate the mind, body, and spirit. And that’s the essence of yoga. Its ability to fuse one’s being lies at the heart of its ability to heal and enhance your sense of well-being. Yoga isn’t a workout activity like weightlifting or a cardio exercise where you push yourself past discomfort to achieve more and more. Yoga should never hurt; if it does, tell your instructor.
Yoga and meditation are tremendously effective healing disciplines that offer seniors and caregivers a great many physical and mental benefits. Medical science has increasingly turned to these disciplines to help older adults and their caregivers achieve a level of health they couldn’t attain otherwise and for good reason.
Courtesy of Pixabay
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