More than three decades ago, cardiologist Dean Ornish made headlines with his claim that practicing yoga when combined with meditation and improvement in diet could help reverse cardiac disease. Since that time, researchers have found many other benefits that yoga can produce, especially for older adults.
Although starting a yoga program can be intimidating at any age, a gentle practice can be just the thing to add to your regimen to stay healthy. Don’t worry, your instructor won’t ask you to contort your body into a pretzel. What you’ll find instead, is that yoga will give you a boost of healthy tips for your mind and body, and it will make everyday a little easier. Here are some typical benefits that you will enjoy.
Movement Without the Strain
High intensity exercise programs can be difficult for older adults. Yoga is an excellent low-impact exercise because it recruits multiple groups of muscle fibers. It strengthens muscles, while limiting stress on the body that running or lifting weights yields.
Limited range of motion that comes with age makes older adults predisposed to falls and fractures. The stretches in many yoga poses can go a long way to help you maintain, and even increase flexibility. Stretching helps joints remain lubricated. In addition, yoga works parts of the body such as the spine that are essential for flexibility, balance and easy movement.
Boosts Mood and Sharpens the Mind
Yoga’s combination of breathing, meditation and slow movement is a natural mood booster, producing endorphins that elevate mood and reduce anxiety. Focusing on the breath and synchronizing it with movement keeps the mind clear and engaged, thereby keeping the brain sharp. Breathing exercises involving alternate nostrils can help harmonize the left and right hemispheres of the brain, exercising it as well.