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Article by Dylan Foster
Many caregivers find themselves focusing so much on the health and wellness of the seniors in their charge that they neglect their own health. Similarly, many seniors become frustrated with the fact that they need a caregiver at all. For both caregivers and seniors, yoga and meditation can be a great way of eliminating stress and achieving physical fitness. Sixty and Me explains that yoga provides a gentle, balance-focused method of exercise, while meditation allows people to center their minds on what is really important.
If you are a senior or caregiver, 532Yoga provides some ways you can get started with yoga and meditation.
A surprising health benefit of yoga and meditation
Yoga and meditation go beyond reducing stress and improving physical fitness. For example, did you know that yoga can promote a healthier gut? Studies continue to show that your overall health is connected to your gut microbiome, which is made up of trillions of microscopic bacteria. What you eat can affect how well you digest food and how well your immune system functions. But exercise can also play a role in your gut health by improving digestion, and in turn, a happy gut can make you feel happier. It’s important to reduce your stress levels for a healthier gut, as well, and yoga and meditation can both help with that.
Start your day with meditation and stretches
Begin your daily exercise routine by meditating and stretching. Meditation, the process of clearing your mind and relaxing your body, can drastically reduce anxiety and stress while supporting your mental health. You can also incorporate deep breathing to aid in stress reduction. Your first meditation attempt may feel awkward or boring, but stick with it. The more you practice, the more natural it will feel.
To get into a more meditative state, darken your room, eliminate any distractions, and create a spa-like atmosphere. Creating a solitude space for yourself can be helpful. After your half hour of meditation, loosen up your joints with a set of stretches. Stretching is a powerful pain and stress reliever that should be part of your daily routine, regardless of whether you exercise. Regular stretching increases your flexibility and your ability to stay balanced. It is also a wonderful stress aid, releasing tension and easing pain and stiffness.
Practicing yoga in a group setting
Once you have meditated and stretched, there are two ways you can approach yoga. First, you can join a yoga studio (532YOGA has plenty of classes to choose from) OR look for a yoga group at your local recreation center. If you are a senior, check your center’s schedule for classes designed for seniors. Senior yoga classes are typically more gentle and, in some cases, provide you with chairs or stools to help you balance.
Taking classes instead of starting your yoga journey by yourself can be beneficial because an instructor can make sure that you use the correct form for each pose. Faulty form and not taking precautions can cause you to injure yourself, so taking classes may be a safer approach, particularly if you are not currently physically active. Classes also will introduce you to a community of people in your age range with similar interests. Studies cited by Mayo Clinic show that people are more likely to keep up with new, healthy habits if they have the active support of a group of friends.
Practicing yoga at home
If you do not want to travel to a recreation center each week, or if you do not have a center with the resources you need nearby, you can start practicing yoga by yourself. In order to make sure you stay safe while you work out, have a friend or caregiver exercise with you. Start by placing a soft, supportive yoga mat on the floor and make sure there’s water available to prevent dehydration. Be sure to stretch before your workout.
Finally, it is time for you to begin your yoga routine. Research online to find a yoga routine that works best for you. For your first time, try starting with several simple poses, like the mountain pose. For the mountain pose, stand as straight as you can with your hands by your sides, making sure that your weight is evenly distributed. Focus on your breathing. While simple, the mountain pose is a great way to center yourself at the beginning of your routine.
And, as with any form of exercise, don’t forget to stay motivated. It’s one thing to try yoga, it’s another to stick with it for the long term. This calls for having a good set of speakers, headphones or earbuds to listen to your favorite music or motivational podcast. Better yet, invest in devices that are Bluetooth-enabled so you can listen wirelessly, freeing you from flopping cords as you practice your routines.
Yoga and meditation are perfect for people of all ages because of the many ways they can be modified to fit each individual’s abilities and preferences. Whether you are a senior or a caregiver, daily meditation, stretching, and yoga can help you improve your overall wellness.
532Yoga is the perfect environment for your practice of Yoga; a beautiful award-winning space where we have combined a zen-like eastern minimalism with a reverential, inclusive homage to teachers past and present. For more information, please visit our website or contact us today!