Monday, September 22, 2014

How Seniors Can Enhance Their Well-Being through Yoga

An increasing number of older adults are discovering the numerous benefits—both physical and emotional—of practicing yoga. The nonprofit group Yoga Across America is one organization focused on bringing the discipline to people of all ages and backgrounds, with classes held in senior living facilities, recreation centers, public parks, and other venues.

For seniors, yoga can enhance flexibility, muscle tone, bone strength, and stamina. It can alleviate minor aches and pains and the effects of some of the physical conditions associated with aging. In addition, yoga has the potential to calm and focus the mind and to help restore mental agility. It can even take the edge off the discomforts associated with menopause. Because yoga promotes a positive mental attitude, it can also help seniors navigate some of the stressful situations of today’s fast-paced world.

Yoga has earned its reputation as a safe, individually paced practice. An older beginner should search out local classes that offer a gentle introduction, rather than jumping into an intense hot yoga workout. Many classes are specifically designed to meet the needs of senior adults, who may have to deal with some initial physical hurdles, such as tightened hamstrings or mobility issues. A gentle hatha yoga practice can be an excellent introduction. A class focused on the Iyengar style, with its use of props to accommodate special physical and structural needs, may also be a good fit. In any practice, an experienced instructor should be able to guide older beginners through a series of poses and practices that take the students individual needs into account.                          

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