As Bette Davis said, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Age brings with it many difficulties, even for seniors who are healthy. For caregivers, life can get extra stressful. You can stay so busy taking care of other people that you forget about yourself. Yoga and meditation can assist both seniors and caregivers with these issues. Here are some of the benefits of the two practices and how you can start today.
Yoga benefits you physically and mentally by helping you tune into your body to develop awareness and strength. There are over 100 kinds of yoga. Most consist of a core regimen of poses that work different muscle groups and incorporate breathing exercises and meditation. Along with mitigating various types of chronic pain, yoga is also associated with lowering blood pressure and promoting quality sleep. Furthermore, you can expect improvements to your flexibility, muscle and core strength, respiration, energy, injury prevention, and cardio and circulatory health. Some mental health benefits include mental clarity, relaxation, focused attention, and sharper concentration. Perhaps most importantly, yoga can significantly reduce stress and the harmful effects it has on the mind and body.
Almost all yoga sessions involve some form of meditation, which is responsible for many of the mental benefits that come with yoga. In addition to those benefits, meditation changes brain physiology and slows the aging process. People who meditate tend to have more gray matter in their brains. This means they have more brain cells and heightened cognitive function.
Probably the most unique benefit that meditation offers is increased self-awareness. The act of exploring your inner self can give you a fresh perspective. A change in perspective can help you learn to accept hardships in life and make changes where you can. Moreover, practicing meditation often gives you the desire to put only good things in your body, which encourages a healthier lifestyle.
Regardless of your age or what kind of shape you’re in, you can start yoga with hardly any equipment. Just purchase a non-slip yoga mat and put on some comfortable clothes. While taking a yoga class in person with a professional trainer is a great way to begin, finding a good instructional DVD also works well. You can even find free online videos to get you started. Just remember to be patient and keep an open mind. You’ll see results in no time.
As far as meditation goes, it’s best to keep it simple. You can do it anywhere and anytime, as long as it’s a quiet place and you have set aside time to relax.
When starting out, it’s best to sit down and set a timer. Begin with meditating for five minutes and work your way up as you progress. Breathing-focused meditation is a great one to start with, which is literally sitting and focusing on your breathing. Anytime your thoughts move from your breath to something else, recalibrate your focus back on your breathing. Doing this over and over until the timer stops is how your attention span and focus is improved over time.
If you’ve started yoga and meditation (or plan to), another way to benefit your health is to add stretching to your daily routine. When done regularly and correctly, stretching eases stress, tension, pain, and stiffness in the body. It also increases blood flow to your muscles, which gets rid of waste byproducts and brings nourishment to your muscles. When your muscles are loose, they help you maintain good posture, which minimizes aches and pains. Stretching is also good for your joints, which leads to better balance and coordination. Particularly as you get older, balance and coordination help you stay mobile and prevent injuries from falls.
Whether you’re a senior who wants to improve your health (or stay healthy) or a caretaker who wants to manage your stress level, yoga and meditation are among the best activities to add to your life. The best part is that anyone can do it. Just start moving and focusing your mind today. You’ll soon begin to notice improvements to your overall health.
For more on the benefits of maintaining your mental health, watch this YouTube video.
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