Yoga and meditation have endless benefits for seniors, keeping the body resilient to injury, offering healthy coping mechanisms for stress, and providing an unequaled well-being boost whenever you need it most. However, getting started can be a bit intimidating. If you’re a beginner, keep these simple tips in mind so you can optimize the benefits of your practice.
Support Your Gut Health
Your gut health has an impact on many other important areas of the body. It plays a role in our mood, our energy levels, the body’s inflammatory response, and various cognitive functions. Recent research has even discovered a connection between disruptions in gut bacteria and Alzheimer's disease! Fortunately, regular physical activity can promote a healthy gut microbiome and keep the rest of your body operating smoothly. In addition to supporting your gut health with a daily yoga routine, consider supplementing with probiotics to give your microbiome an extra boost.
Set Yourself up for Regular Practice
Committing to regular yoga and meditation practice is crucial to enjoying long-term benefits like greater flexibility, muscle strength, and mental resilience. To maintain a consistent practice, Headspace recommends prioritizing your yoga and meditation sessions instead of treating them as activities you’ll get to when you have the time. Consider dedicating a special corner of your home, or even an entire room, to your practice. This space should make you feel comfortable and at peace. Remove distractions from this area, including limiting furniture, frustrating clutter, and any items that don’t align with the goals of your practice.
Let Go of Expectations
Everyone has expectations when they start something new. Though they can be great motivators, expectations can also cause discouragement when things don’t go as you had hoped. Try not to judge yourself if you’re unable to keep up with the yoga teacher or you find yourself fighting to control racing thoughts during meditation. It will take plenty of practice to train your mind to focus on a single thought. Likewise, continuous practice will teach you how to optimize each yoga pose for your own body. You'll get much more out of your yoga and meditation sessions if you act as a mindful observer rather than struggling to exert control over yourself.
Be Mindful of Your Body
Listening to your body while doing any form of exercise is extremely important for preventing injury and enjoying the greatest benefits. It’s easy to tune out how you feel when you’re in a yoga class focussing on following a teacher or comparing yourself to others. Body awareness takes time to develop — be extra careful if you're new to yoga since overstretching can be dangerous. Instead, be gentle on your body and only stretch as far as it feels good. You can modify poses to make them more accessible, using props, pillows, and resistance bands — starter kits can be found for as little as $30 and can be the best way to help ease your way into the practice. If yoga is uncomfortable for you right out of the gate, try getting starting with chair yoga or do low-impact floor poses as you gain strength and flexibility in your muscles.
Start Each Session by Setting Intentions
You can really optimize your yoga and meditation sessions if you take a minute to set intentions before you begin. Intentions aren’t goals but more like determinations or ideas that you would like to focus on. EkhartYoga recommends setting your intention by thinking of a personal quality or trait that you want to enhance and grow through your practice. Whether that's courage, peace, calm, forgiveness, or openness to change, your intention should resonate with you.
Yoga and meditation can do wonders to improve a senior's quality of life. If you suffer from chronic conditions, these wellness activities can help you manage pain and maintain your mobility. And if you're completely healthy, yoga and meditation will help you stay that way. Your senior years can truly be enjoyable with the help of some mind and body care.