Your doctor has been telling you for years that yoga will help with all those aging aches and pains. You’ve even seen people coming out of yoga classes at the senior center full of smiles and flexible hamstrings. You know it’s something that you can even do at home. But, for some reason, you just can’t push yourself to go to class.
It’s OK; you’re not alone. Our modern society is one that encourages and, in many ways, rewards a sedentary lifestyle–at least early on. But as the years progress, we start to pay for all of those days of inactivity. Maybe that’s the situation you find yourself in now or perhaps a life of high activity (with little stretching) has taken a toll on your body. Fortunately, you can reverse the effects of an inert lifestyle at any age, and yoga is one of the most effective ways to do so.
First, yoga doesn’t require anything but your breath and your body.
While going to a yoga class can be a nice way to make a new friend or hold yourself accountable to your fitness goals, you can also practice at home. You can check out a book on beginner’s yoga from the library or incorporate technology by finding exercise videos and fitness apps. For example, there are loads of yoga videos on YouTube that you can follow along with. You can also use any one of hundreds of fitness apps on your smartphone to learn beginner yoga poses, some with pictures and others with video. If you and your caregiver want to make it competitive, you can even check out Wii Fit Plus, EA Sports Active, Wii Fit Plus Yoga and dozens of other fitness games for the Nintendo Wii.
Second, plan your poses based on your goals.
After talking to your doctor to make sure a home yoga practice is right for you, you’ll want to plan your practice around your goals. Yoga is a workout for the mind and body. Be sure to ask your caregiver about his or her goals so you can plan workouts that address both your needs. Some common benefits of yoga for seniors include:
- Reduce pain and improve mobility in joints, like ankles, wrists, shoulders, knees and hips.
- Improve balance and stability with standing poses like Tree or Warrior III, both of which you can do with your hands on the wall or a chair for added support.
- Boosts core strength, which improves posture and aids in digestion and elimination
- Improves sleep quality with a relaxing nighttime routine.
- Lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and improves mood by creating a focus on the breath.
Third, get a workout buddy to help you set and commit to your routine.
There are many reasons why working out with someone is a beneficial idea. For seniors with mobility issues, practicing with caregivers or a family member gives you an added sense of security. Regardless of health issues, committing to yoga with a partner can help you both stay committed to your fitness goals. You can encourage each other, support one another and give a gentle push then they fall off the wagon. Doing yoga with your caregiver can help you both deal with life’s daily stressors. In fact, doing yoga with your caregiver is a great way to stay motivated and help them unwind and relax.
Taking up a yoga practice with your caregiver can change your life and your relationship. Both of you need to focus on your mental and physical well-being, so why not do it together? Remember, there is no age limit or body type when it comes to yoga — it truly is for everybody.
This Article was written by Harry Cline.
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.