Yoga and meditation can be excellent options for seniors as well as caregivers who want to stay active, even when mobility is restricted and options for physical activity are limited. These are soothing, calming disciplines that can make a measurable difference in a senior’s physical and mental well-being. There are also different kinds of yoga of different levels of intensity that make it possible for older people to get the exercise they need without risking physical injury. As an added bonus, classes are relatively inexpensive at about $12 a session, but there are also countless DVDs and even YouTube channels that allow you to practice at home for next to nothing.
Where to begin
The key to getting started in yoga is identifying the right form and intensity level for you. In general, it’s advisable to start with a gentle form of yoga that’s suitable for senior beginners. Chair yoga is a safe and stable option if you’re mobility-limited and have difficulty getting up from a yoga mat. Gentle yoga is another viable option, a low-impact version that can be done from a standing or seated position. Either form can be done together with your caregiver. The two of you can provide mutual encouragement, and your caregiver can see to it that you avoid injury.
Fit and flexible
Instructor Swami Ramananda calls yoga “a true harmony of head, heart and hands.” It’s a system comprised of postures and a discipline for enriching your life. Learning yoga is a highly personal experience that can readily be adapted to the physical needs and limitations of the practitioner. Think of yoga and meditation as complementary practices which, together, address many of the psychological, emotional, and physical problems that older adults and their caregivers often face. The benefits to seniors are so notable that doctors are increasingly prescribing yoga and meditation as a “package” therapy.
Mental and emotional benefits of meditation
Meditation is a relaxing yet powerful practice that can help you cope with pain through concentration and the achievement of mental self-control. There are different approaches to meditation, and it can take time to find the approach that’s best for you. When you do find it, you’ll notice a number of improvements. Your immune system will be stronger, and your mental focus, cognitive abilities and memory will also improve, conferring a sharpening of your mental acuity.
Getting the maximum benefit from yoga and meditation requires sufficient space and the right environment. Setting up a dedicated space will help keep you motivated to practice your new-found disciplines and establish the healing mind-body connection they can provide. Declutter a room or space that allows for unimpeded movement, one that can be darkened and where you can incorporate natural artwork, scented candles and anything else that helps focus your energy and maintain concentration.
Emphasize soft textures and colors with your furniture, which should be sparse and kept out of the way. If necessary, move furniture and other large objects into storage, a cost-effective alternative to throwing them out: the average cost of a storage facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was right around $150 over the past half-year.
Yoga is an excellent outlet, a form of stress-relief for caregivers who tend to the needs of a loved one or care subject for days on end without adequate rest and recreation. According to research, yoga helps caregivers alleviate symptoms of depression and feel more confident about the care they provide. Finding harmony through yoga will help you approach the caregiver role as a privilege and a practice, not a burden. You may feel more energized in your care duties and impart some of that energy and optimism to your loved one.
Yoga and meditation help seniors looking for ways to enjoy better physical and mental well-being achieve a fuller, more enriching life. Anyone can do them - there’s no age limit, and getting started is easy once you find the right form and instructor.
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