In the OnPoint podcast, “Designing Communities for an Aging America,” it was said that the elderly have to “keep their brain moving.” This can be accomplished through crosswords and Sudoku. But also just as important is keeping your body moving. This can range from walking to doing yoga. Exercise is important to keep the body fit and the brain engaged.
Practicing yoga decreases stress, which is beneficial to overall health. It increases nerve stimulation that benefits the brain. When you line up your breathing with your body movements, you regulate your heartbeat, so you see a lot of other kinds of health benefits.
Vinyasa yoga instructor Sharay Thomas said that one of the most important benefits is balance. “People of a certain age start to lose their balance,” she said. “Yoga brings back balance to elderly people by using the left and right brain.”
Another benefit is that yoga tightens up your core and improves posture, Thomas said. At a certain age, people might start to slouch. Yoga helps lengthen the spine.
In addition, yoga improves flexibility, Thomas said. It helps with being able to reach your toes and reach behind your back, the natural mobility we are all supposed to have. Yoga keeps you pretty limber, she said.
For older people who are prone to falling, Thomas recommends adopting yoga practice. “Yoga gives you that balance and that strength to move as an individual as long as possible.”
Leading a yogic lifestyle can increase longevity. Regular exercise can help to maintain muscle strength and tone and bone density, joint flexibility, improve posture, balance, and maintain mobility. Combined with controlled breathing, regular practice can maintain respiratory and circulatory health. Reduced calorie intake can also increase longevity.
In addition, yoga has been shown to decrease depression and anxiety and generally maintaining mental health. If a vegetarian diet is adopted, it is shown to lengthen life spans and decrease risks of heart disease and cancer.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga include universal morality, personal observances, body postures, breathing exercises, control of the senses, concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness, devotion, and union with the Divine.
Even though the body isn’t as strong as it used to be in elderly, they can still benefit substantially from a yogic lifestyle. The benefits of yoga can vary across different age groups.
As a society, we need to start changing our attitudes about the elderly. Although there is a often a period of demise, we need to stop thinking about the elderly as frail and weak.
Yogic breathing can rapidly bring the mind to the present moment and reduce stress. Yoga can impact longevity in similar ways that meditation does.
In one study, researchers compared those who meditate to those who don’t. After the three month intervention, people who meditated had 30 percent more activity of the enzyme telomerase. Telomeres are located on the ends of chromosomes to prevent them from unraveling. Each time the cell reproduces, the telomeres become shorter. This is recognized as a cause of aging. Telomerase can help lessen aging.