How Yoga and Meditation Make Life Better for Seniors and Caregivers (GUEST ARTICLE)

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-post written by Harry Cline of 

Are you a senior or caregiver looking for ways to improve your quality of life? Adding something new to your routine is challenging, but there are worthwhile endeavors which can make you happier and healthier. Consider yoga and meditation, as these age-old practices can bring you important, refreshing benefits.

Overall Condition and Outlook

There is so much is to be gained from yoga and meditation, and science is taking notice. In fact, these ancient practices are getting more attention than ever, as some studies show the mental and physical benefits are both important and measurable. You can improve heart health through improved circulation, lowered heart rate, and reduced blood pressure. People with arthritis can improve joint health and reduce inflammation, and those with back pain often experience relief within days of beginning a regimen. Symptoms of asthma can be reduced, stress levels lowered, risk of depression lowered, and it can boost your mood for a more positive outlook on life.  It’s a great way to improve strength, stamina, flexibility, and balance, and there are even indicators that you can lower your risk for dementia.

Gains in Gut Health

You might be surprised to learn one of the keys to your general condition is how your healthy and balanced your digestion is. Your digestive tract includes a world of tiny organisms, and when things get off-kilter it can lead to more than an upset stomach or irregularity. Alterations in routine, stress, medications, and diet changes can all lead to getting off-balance, and when that occurs it appears to affect the rest of your being, leading to mood changes, poor sleep, reduced immune function, and other concerns. From there, things can domino, with a world of potential health-related complications. Physical activity is one way to help keep your digestive tract healthy, and certain yoga poses appear to be particularly helpful when it comes to gut health.  It’s one more big health boost you can enjoy by adding yoga and meditation to your lifestyle.

What Kind of Yoga Is Right for Me?

Yoga and meditation are linked since yoga postures help you relax and focus your mind and body for meditation. However, you can learn them separately and use them separately. If you are unfamiliar with yoga, finding out there is a wide range of yoga practices can be confusing.  MindBodyGreen offers an explanation of 11 of the more prevalent types of yoga, from the vigorous Bikram yoga, to slow and steady Iyengar yoga. One idea is to engage in a set of gentle yoga postures to get started. For those who need to remain seated, there are modified postures using a chair. You can ease into meditation as well by learning some mindfulness exercises. Remember yoga and meditation should never hurt you or make you uncomfortable, so if you try something and experience discomfort, that’s a signal to lighten up or try a different method.

Getting Into a Healthful Routine

When it comes to establishing a new habit, some studies indicate it takes three weeks for a new practice to take root. With that in mind, you may wish to create a space at home for engaging in yoga and meditation. That way, when weather is questionable or your schedule is tight, you can ensure you participate. Set aside a space conducive to relaxation, free of distractions and interruptions. The environment should be peaceful and uncluttered; also, look for soft lighting and a supportive floor. Curtains provide privacy, although a view of nature can be soothing, so examine your situation for what will be most comfortable. Additionally, think about whether you will enjoy yoga more in the morning or early evening. Time of day can affect how well you stick with the schedule, and there are pros and cons to both options.

Participating in a new routine can be tough, but sometimes it’s worth the effort. Look for ways to make both yoga and meditation part of your lifestyle. The benefits to seniors and their caregivers are vast, and practicing can mean improved overall quality of life.

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