How You Can Benefit from Yoga and Meditation as a Senior or a Caregiver

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  • Dec 4, 2018

Developing a fitness plan can be tricky, especially when time and energy are tight. However,
yoga, coupled with meditation, can be a rejuvenating act that has many benefits. Doing yoga
together, or independently, does not need to take an excessive amount of time, and it may help
to improve your quality of life in the long run.

Dangers of Stress

No matter what stage of life we are in, stress is one of the most toxic things to our bodies. It
affects every area, from our brains to our muscles to our very cells. The hormone released
when under stress can lead to impaired memory, higher fat storage, inflammation, and an
increased risk of cancer. It ages us internally and externally and may contribute to Alzheimer’s.
It might lead to hearing and vision impairment, thanks again to the adrenaline released. It also
may be a large factor in poor lifestyle choices. You may be more likely to eat unhealthy foods,
exercise infrequently, and make other poor decisions. It is important to decrease our everyday
stresses by healthy means, two of which are yoga and meditation.

 

Emotional Benefits

Yoga and meditation often go hand in hand, as yoga can be a form of meditation that removes
one from unhealthy thoughts and allows one to exist in the moment. Yoga is good for the body,
but it’s also good for the mind and our emotional well-being. Studies suggest that it alleviates
symptoms of depression, common in people with stressful careers, like caregiving, and in
seniors. It teaches you how to consciously relax, which is key in learning how to unwind from
stress.

Meditating is another way to improve our stress levels. Meditating daily may help you make
healthier choices, give you better control over your own thoughts and emotional states, and help
you stay in the moment even when not you’re meditating. Much of the stress in our lives
originates from dwelling on the past or hypothetical situations that may arise in the future.
Meditation can give us the tools we need to remain grounded in the here and now. You can
even set up your own meditation room in your home. Choose a quiet spot where you’ll be able
to relax and be free from distractions.

Physical Benefits

The most obvious physical benefits of yoga come from the stretching you will do, especially for
seniors and those with physically demanding vocations. Stretching daily, even for only a few
minutes, can ease tension and stress, as well as help with pain and stiffness. Yoga especially
helps with back pain, which many of us suffer from, as well as the arthritis pain we may develop
as we age. Yoga can strengthen the muscles and tendons around our joints, which may make
them easier to move, and relieve stiffness and pain. Hot yoga and gentle yoga are particularly
adept at easing muscle and joint pain. Meditation alone may aid in lowering blood pressure,
reducing headaches, and help you sleep more soundly at night.

Different Ways to Begin

Whether you are a senior or a caregiver, it’s important to start a yoga practice gently. It is best
to start your practice in a class environment, as the teacher can give you guidance and ensure
you do not suffer an injury by doing a form incorrectly. Some forms of yoga, such as Iyengar or
hatha, are good types to begin with as they emphasize easy, gentle poses as well as the use of
blocks and straps to aid in stretching. If you need additional support, try chair or water yoga. Of
course, especially for seniors, it’s important to talk to your doctor before engaging in a new
workout regimen, just to be on the safe side.

Doing a few daily stretches, meditating for 10 or 20 minutes here and there, can help to lower
stress levels, both physically and emotionally. When we feel better and have fewer aches, it’s
easier for us to enjoy the moment. By meditating, we can develop the skills we need to combat
stress and be much healthier.

 

Sheila Olson has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.

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