Yoga is not a practice for the Young. It is a practice to keep us feeling young. As you age the movements, breath work, and mindfulness practices of Yoga can help you to continue living a full and engaging life.
Yoga for the Young
When I was in my early twenties I was in so much pain that there were occasions when I couldn't stand up straight. My lower backed was compressed. The activities of my daily life were increasing the damage. I saw the doctor, took muscle relaxants, stopped running and went to the chiropractor. Then, my friends invited me to audit a Yoga class. Everything changed.
I had found a way to feel well and to reduce my back pain. I started seeking out places to practice Yoga. I visited gyms, studios, people's homes, American Legions, community centers, and more. I sought Yoga classes everywhere I went. Eventually, I decided that vinyasa was my preferred style of practice. At the gym and eventually, my teacher's studio, I was the star student. I knew every posture and could flow through the sequences almost flawlessly. Headstands and handstands, arm balances and backward bends were my favorite postures.
Yoga is Wellbeing
I trained to become a Yoga teacher and while doing so learned much about what Yoga really is. When I first began teaching I guided in the style that was most familiar; vinyasa. My teacher and guide helped me to identify what was out of balance in my practice. She suggested I work on alignment. Again, everything changed. I dove deep into study of anatomy and physiology, the body and psychology. The way in which I practiced and taught changed. I started to identify my own imbalances and began to help others recognize theirs.
The more I practiced, the slower my asana and the more intentional my practice became. I was less interested in the athleticism of the practice. Caring for my body, mind, emotions, and energy became my focus. I wanted to do things that will keep me feeling well in every way.
Yoga as We Age
Approaching the practice with awareness of self opened new doors. Clients with specific needs including anxiety, Rheumatoid Arthritis, cancer remission, spinal issues, Multiple Sclerosis, Sciatic pain, recent surgery, Ankylosing Spondylosis, Scoliosis, overweight, as well as other minor and major limitations began seeking me out. Practicing therapeutic Yoga includes more than just addressing bodily needs. We attend to every aspect of ourselves.
Teaching people of all ages with all types of needs enlightened me to the importance of Yoga as we age. Whether 19 or 99, Yoga is accessible and available for all. Every posture can be varied or adjusted to serve individual needs. Pain can be managed, discomforts reduced, healing increased, and wellbeing created through the movements, breath work, and mindful practices of Yoga.
Yoga as a Challenge
My specialty is my ability to vary and create practices in the moment that serve the needs of whomever is in front of me. This skill came naturally while I was training to teach Yoga and has continued to develop over time.
Anyone who sticks with the practices I guide will observe that we are always working through the various aspects of postures before we actually get into them. The pose itself may seem easy, at first, but when we break it down a new appreciation for the subtleties of each position can be developed.
Practicing in a variety of locations can create challenges that you may never have expected. Your ability to focus, balance, breathe, and access the practice can be effected by where you are, who you are with, and the surface upon which you practice.
Challenge yourself by creating variation in your practice and learn to serve your own needs as they continually change over time. Keep practicing Yoga, everywhere, and experience how it always provides you with exactly what you need no matter your age.
Join a scheduled practice, request a private session, or deepen your individual practice now and as you age. Learn more about how we can help at LakeTahoeYoga.com.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 40.4 million family caregivers for adults age 65 or older in the United States. These caregivers are typically family members who take on the responsibility of helping their loved one with long-term services and support. Caregivers may provide financial assistance and personal care, but a large part of what they do is helping with day-to-day activities and emotional support. While most caregivers find that being there for their loved one is a rewarding experience, it stands to reason that the role involves a certain amount of stress with the risk of burnout. While dealing with that stress involves several healthy lifestyle choices, adding yoga and meditation to your daily schedule can be a huge boon to the overall mental health and wellness of both caregiver and senior.
A Morning Stretch
Among the many changes that happen to the body as we age, most seniors find that they lose flexibility and agility as the years go on. Doing a gentle yoga routine in the morning is a great way to improve mobility and balance, which is essential for preventing senior falls. Stretching is also beneficial for caregivers of all ages, as it eases tension due to stress. Furthermore, it’s helpful in reducing pain as well as stiffness in both the muscles and joints.
To get the best results, it’s important to be consistent and commit to stretching every morning. Having a dedicated practice ensures both senior and caregiver maintain muscular integrity while building strength. Try this easy stretching routine to help relieve stress and improve flexibility. To make it more like yoga, focus on your breath with each stretch. Inhale through your nose as you prepare to enter each pose, and exhale through your mouth when you release.
A Mindful Approach
As stretching and yoga help seniors and their caregivers maintain healthy bodies, meditation helps improve the health of the mind. By dedicating time to contemplation, people who meditate increase their mindfulness for a happier and more fulfilled life. According to Gizmodo, research shows that meditation can shield the brain from the damaging effects of stress and anxiety. Furthermore, it helps improve patience, enhances sleep quality, and alleviates feelings of depression. A daily meditation practice enriches one’s life and helps build self-esteem. Learning how to meditate is even a helpful skill when it comes to the management of chronic pain.
Just about everyone can benefit from meditation, but when it comes to seniors, there are particular benefits to consider. For one, when used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle and medical supervision meditation slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, degenerative conditions that impede cognitive function and memory. When seniors meditate, they are less likely to suffer from isolation and loneliness, which can have devastating physical health effects on top of the mental and emotional strain. Meditating stimulates the brain’s centers for memory, so it can help slow the memory loss that affects many people over the age of 65. Furthermore, the deep and focused breathing that accompanies meditation introduces healthy oxygen into the blood while improving circulation. Many seniors suffer from poor circulation resulting cramping, pain, or a heavy sensation in the limbs.
Millions of people in the United States provide unpaid care for a senior loved one. Care giving involves many things, including financial assistance, personal care, assistance with day-to-day activities, and emotional support. While most caregivers enjoy being there for a loved one, it comes with its share of stress with a risk of burnout. Along with a healthy lifestyle, seniors and their caregivers can ensure wellness with daily yoga and meditation habits. Stretching in the morning is a great way to improve agility and balance for seniors, while it can help their caregivers relieve anxiety and stress-related pain. Meditation is as good for the head as yoga is good for the body. It improves mindfulness and protects the brain from stress, but it’s also helpful for seniors, as it slows the progression of dementia.
Give The Gift of Yoga
Lake Tahoe Yoga offers a variety of options for individuals interested in beginning the practice of mindful movement and meditation.