Finding Zen in Your Golden Years with Yoga

The fantasies of retirement paint almost the perfect picture of finding your zen in life – you’re done working for a living, stress simply washes away, you’re in perfect health to work on your garden every day or go on that cruise you’ve been eyeballing. The reality, however, is not always so picturesque. Retirement is a symbol of getting older, and with aging can come medical ailments, tightening the purse strings if you’re on a budget and no longer working, fighting harder to maintain relationships and seek out social interaction, and the seemingly inevitable stresses of losing independence. Finding Zen in Your Golden Years with Yoga

What effective, mindfulness activity is a sure-fire tool for finding zen in your Golden Years no matter what life throws at you? You guessed it, yoga. While the practice of yoga has grown significantly in popularity over the past 15 years, for many seniors the vision of yoga is one of curling and twisting yourself into a pretzel, which obviously seems painful and impossible. Breaking down these yoga misconceptions is a must for living a full, happy and healthy life in retirement. Check out these 5 superior health benefits of senior yoga: Finding Zen in Your Golden Years with Yoga

Relieves Stress

The stress of getting older is enough without piling on anxiety over health, money and family situations. Yoga for seniors is a proven stress-reliever in both its focus on meditation and relaxation, as well as its physical effects on the body. Regular exercise (about 30 minutes a day) including yoga, has been shown to boost endorphin production, endorphins being those feel-good brain chemicals that lead to feelings of euphoria and diminish the negative associations stress has like depression, tense muscles, and stomach aches. Finding Zen in Your Golden Years with Yoga

Builds Strong Bones and Muscles

You don’t have to run a marathon to feel the physical benefits of exercise. Low-impact exercises, of which yoga is included, may seem lighter on the exertion but are extremely beneficial (and recommended) for seniors. Moving the body, stretching the spine, and holding yoga positions helps your body build up bone mass and fight osteoporosis, while a boost in heart rate strengthens the heart muscle and consistent deep breathing expands and strengthens the lungs.

Alleviates Back Pain

The gentle, flowing stretching and deep breathing of yoga practice have been shown to help alleviate back pain as well. By stretching tense muscles and tendons in your back, yoga boosts blood flow to the affected area and aids in reducing inflammation. The mindfulness and meditation of yoga can also alter your perception of pain – as you relax and your nervous system unwinds, your body produces more endorphins, you focus your thoughts positively, and stretch sore and tense muscles like they haven’t been stretched before. The American College of Physicians, in fact, issued new recommendations at the beginning of 2017 that hailed practices like yoga, tai chi, and acupuncture for relieving low back pain over medicines and pharmacological aids. Finding Zen in Your Golden Years with Yoga

Encourages Socialization

Yoga classes are a great way for seniors to get out with friends, or meet new people and interact with others socially. Look for a class near you to join by reaching out to your local YMCA or senior center, or look online with free services including DoYogaWithMe.com and YogaFinder.com. Even though yoga is practiced in quiet, relaxing settings, the before and after engagement with others is fun, welcomed and continues to boost overall mood. Avoiding social isolation and seeking out the company of others regularly is also an important way to prevent memory loss, dementia, and age-related cognitive decline.

Helps Prevent Falls

With the statistics on senior falls being pretty drastic, 1 in 3 seniors over 65 will experience a fall at some point, fall prevention plays a vital role in your health as you age. Yoga practice naturally incorporates balancing, flexibility and coordination activity – from holding poses to gently bending, arching, lunging, and grounding yourself to the floor. The stronger your balance and coordination, the less chance of falling as you age, which means avoiding serious injury, hip fractures, and potential hospitalization. Finding Zen in Your Golden Years with Yoga

Practicing yoga is possible for everyone, even older adults with mobility problems. Chair yoga can be done sitting down or bracing yourself with a chair while water yoga is actually practiced in a shallow warm pool, allowing for weightless movement with all the same mental and physical health benefits. The ancient practice of yoga has truly transformed into a modern way for seniors to stay healthy, fight stress, and live their best life in retirement.

 By Joe Fleming

Co-Founder, Vive Health

Finding Zen in Your Golden Years with Yoga

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About the Author

Kimberly Johnson

As Senior.com Director of Sales and Marketing, Kimberly Johnson is passionate about providing Seniors with the resources and products to live well.  Kimberly is a seasoned caregiver to her family and breast cancer survivor.  Her father battled ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and she was a primary caregiver.  Today Kimberly lives in Southern California near her 104-year-old grandmother, widowed mother, a mentally disabled sister and second sister who is also a breast cancer survivor.  She is happily married to her husband of 24 years and they have 3 children.

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