Are you thinking about beginning yoga and meditation? With the many health benefits both practices offer, there is increasing interest them. However, getting involved with anything new can be intimidating, especially if you aren’t very familiar with how those activities work. Here’s information to help seniors and caregivers who are thinking of easing into meditation and yoga.
What Are the Benefits?
There is a lot of chatter surrounding yoga and meditation these days, and all with very good reason. According to some scientific studies, there are ample potential health benefits to be gained from the two practices, both for mind and body. Here are just a few:
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved focus
- Reduced pain levels
- Lower stress levels
- Decreased risk for depression and anxiety
- Improved balance and flexibility
- Lower levels of inflammation
- Improved quality of sleep
- Reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
You might be thinking that you aren’t lithe or bendy enough to do yoga, but in fact, virtually anyone can successfully participate. Many people are surprised to learn that there are numerous types of the practice. For instance, Hatha yoga is gentle and slow, Vinyasa is more vigorous, and Ashtanga is strict and intense. Many people dip into yoga with a handful of simple postures, or you can start with chair yoga if you have balance or mobility concerns. Although there are free ways to practice (YouTube is a great resource), seniors who have never tried yoga will benefit from starting out under the watchful eye of an experienced instructor. Some Medicare Advantage plans cover group yoga classes, so check to see if your current plan does, or consider researching a new one that covers senior-friendly yoga classes (not to mention water aerobics, Zumba classes, and more!).
No matter its form, yoga’s poses are designed not only for physical benefits, but also to put you in a mindset for meditation. You can perform deep breathing exercises while doing the postures, and also engage in deep breathing anytime you feel tense or are in a stressful situation. What’s more, the only thing you really need to get started is a yoga mat.
How to Stick with It
Getting into a new routine is hard work. Some statistics indicate that 80 percent of those engaging in a new exercise routine don’t stick with it. However, the Association for Applied Sport Psychology notes that you can set yourself up for success by keeping a few strategies in mind. Your new program should be fun, not painful or uncomfortable. If at any time a yoga posture hurts, you should aim for something gentler and less extreme. Ease into your program gradually by utilizing light and slow work at the beginning. Develop a routine that fits well with your schedule, and make sure it’s convenient.
The Ultimate Convenience
Setting up an area at home for yoga and meditation ensures that you can participate regularly, regardless of weather and time constraints. When designing the area, ensure it’s uncluttered so you can stretch out and focus. If you don’t know what to do with excess furniture and the like, you can always store things while you figure it out. And as House Beautiful notes, some research shows living with less clutter can make you feel better, so you might make up your mind you don’t want that stuff back. If you decide you don’t miss those things, consider donating them to a charity or selling them online.
Building Personal Technique
Both yoga and meditation can be quite personal experiences. You might decide to experiment with different styles of yoga once you have a solid foundation. Some people also benefit from different styles of meditation. For instance, you might find visualizing is particularly effective for you or that using repetitive sounds helps you focus and relax. Some people find aromatherapy helps their practice, and lighting can also make a difference in your program.
Yoga and meditation are activities nearly everyone can do, so choose what works best for you, and find ways you can stick with it. Ease in, make it convenient, and have fun — soon, you’ll be reaping the many health benefits of these two practices.