When Yoga Meets Aging: Can One Prevent the Other?

Aging is a natural part of life, but we can do something to slow down its symptoms and problems. Several studies reveal what yoga can do to the aging mind.

Yoga is an ancient meditative and physical exercise that began in India thousands of years ago, but it has gained supporters and practitioners continuously. In the 1960s, many young people explored this art for its philosophical and spiritual benefits; but these days, yoga is popular for its physical and health benefits. Practitioners say that these include improved flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, and better respiration and vitality. But what happens when practitioners start to age? Can yoga help them?

Studies Reveal Yoga’s Surprising Benefits

Recent studies revealed that 12 weeks of yoga could slow down aging. Practices should include breathing exercises, physical postures, and meditation. The researchers found that yoga can reverse the effects of depression, inflammation, and stress. Yoga lessens cortisol levels and increases neuroplasticity, which means less risk for developing anxiety, Alzheimer’s, or even dementia.

In another study, older adults who did yoga three times a week were able to manage stress and do better in tests than those who did not do yoga. It also showed that practitioners improved their memory and felt less anxiety. Even for older adults, the chance of developing dementia and being cared for at home did not worry them.

Yoga Positions to Slow Down Aging

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Older adults can do the following positions if they are new to yoga. These positions can introduce them to the art and could be a gateway for anyone to start the practice.

Equal Standing

Stand with your feet parallel to your hips, with your arms on your side. With your feet flat on the floor, shift side to side, forward and backward. Your focus should then move upwards to the ankles, the hips and then the shoulders, and finally the head. Move the chin, so your head is balanced on your spine. This exercise will make you aware of your posture and balance.

Squat

Stand with your feet aligned to your shoulders and arms at the sides. Move downwards as if going to sit down and extend your arms forward for balance. Make sure that your knees are behind your toes to keep your body balanced.

Seated Twist

This exercise can give you a healthy spine and ease back muscle pain. Sit in a cross-legged position, making sure your spine is upright. Inhale, and then exhale as you twist gently to one side. If you move to the right, make sure to place your right hand behind you and the left hand on your right knee. Return to the center, and repeat on the other side.

Several other positions could help ease the symptoms of aging, such as the plank, the downward dog, and the tree pose. All of these strive to improve balance, breathing and respiration, and muscle strength, but only if a practitioner does it regularly.

Aging is part of every living thing’s life, and human beings are no exception. But we can slow down the symptoms and illnesses we will all face when we age, and sometimes it only requires a daily yoga habit.

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