When it comes to health, yoga and meditation can be particularly positive additions to virtually anyone’s lifestyle. Whether you’re a senior, caregiver, or love someone who fits one of those descriptions, making these practices part of the routine can mean reaping particularly important benefits. Read on for information about all there is to gain and how to engage.
Benefits to the Mind, Body, and Spirit
Yoga and meditation are thousands of years old, but they are receiving increasing attention thanks to scientific research substantiating some of the many ways they improve life for those who participate. As Medical News Today explains, several studies show tremendous health benefits, such as reversing cognitive decline, lowering susceptibility to stress, reducing back pain, and lowering risk of depression. It appears you can improve your immune system and nervous system function, reduce inflammation levels, and even lower risk for dementia. With so many gains, it’s only logical for yoga and meditation to be recognized as powerful health tools.
Yoga and Meditation for Mental Health
Your bodies are incredible machines with so many intertwined systems. When one area starts to break down, other systems feel it too and respond in kind. Take depression, for example, a serious issue many seniors encounter, which can lead to a host of health problems you might not ever have considered. For example, depression can lead to poor dental health and hygiene, which in turn can lead to gum disease, eventually affecting your heart health. Depression can also do a number on your digestive system. If you’re stressed or sad, your gut health isn’t likely in check. Believe it or not, yoga — and exercise in general — can have an incredible effect on both your oral and gut health, plus, as mentioned above, it can work wonders in managing or even staving off depression. When you incorporate meditation with this practice, the health benefits can multiply.
Follow Through for a Better Life
In our world, we often make choices contrary to what is good for our well-being, even when we know better. Some statistics indicate about 80 percent of us resolve to make improvements in our lifestyles, whether relating to health, finances, or other concerns, but fail to follow through within a couple months of those resolutions. Think about finding ways to encourage yourself to stick to a healthier lifestyle that includes yoga and meditation, bearing in mind this is something you are doing for yourself. Perhaps connecting with a buddy for partnership a day or two each week can help you stay on track, or investing in your gear will help motivate you. You can pick up a yoga mat at Walmart for only $9.49, which is all you really need to get started.
One method for staying inspired is to pledge a space in your home for your routine. This is a great way to ensure that you have a comfortable spot where you can relax and focus. If you have things that are in your way and you can’t decide whether to keep them, you can always put them into storage while you mull it over.
Your Personal Sanctuary
Setting up an area for an at-home yoga studio can be very edifying. This area can be a spare bedroom, an unused dining room, or space in your garage. When you’re ready to set up your personal yoga space, think in terms of what will be relaxing for you. Clear the area so you don’t have distractions, which will create a peaceful sanctuary. You’re likely to discover even the act of decluttering starts helping you feel better since clutter is associated with elevated stress levels. You should select a soothing color scheme, which could be hues taken from the forest or the sky, quiet neutrals, or light, sunny yellow. Consider including some essential oils to encourage calm, balanced energy, and focus (Walgreens offers affordable oils starting at around $6.29). Scents such as sandalwood, rose, lavender, and sage are just a few to consider. Natural elements can also be a boon, so think about including some wooden features, a view of the outdoors, and a few cleansing houseplants.
Poses Aren’t Pretzels
A surprising number of people misunderstand how yoga and meditation function. You should never be in pain or uncomfortable — physically, mentally, or spiritually — while engaging in yoga or meditation. Consider easing into things by learning some meditation techniques. Lifetime Daily notes that there are even senior-oriented meditation podcasts available. Meditation and yoga go hand-in-hand, with the poses of yoga helping you settle into a healthy mindset for meditation. Seniors can be especially intimidated by the physicality of yoga, but there are numerous helpful poses appropriate for participants of all ages and abilities. If you need to remain seated, you can do chair yoga poses, which are modified from various types of yoga.
No matter your circumstances, you can enjoy the many benefits from yoga and meditation. Think about what will help you commit, and bear in mind you have much to gain. Both seniors and caregivers can enjoy a better quality of life thanks to these ancient practices.
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.