As a senior, it can sometimes be difficult to get in your daily exercise. Exercise is often high impact, and requires good balance, flexibility, and mobility. However, when our senior loved ones move to assisted living, they simply aren’t able to complete those same high impact exercises that they may have done in the past. That’s why it’s so important to find alternative ways for our senior loved ones to get up and get active.
Yoga is an incredible way for seniors to get up and get moving. It focuses on movement and mindfulness, not high impact activity. It’s an easier, low impact way for seniors to get up and get moving. Plus, yoga can be easily adapted to be done in a chair for seniors, who have less mobility than others. And that’s why so many senior living centers, including Serra Sol’s assisted senior living in San Juan Capistrano, have made yoga a key feature of their senior activity goals.
But what about yoga makes it so impactful?
1. Better Balance and Increased Flexibility
Yoga provides an excellent opportunity for seniors to increase their balance and flexibility. The poses in yoga force the practitioner to move their bodies in ways they might not typically do. Because of this, they’re using muscles and muscle groups that they may not have the opportunity to use very often.
Increased balance and flexibility are extremely important to seniors, because seniors struggle a lot with falls. Though your senior loved one may not be standing on one foot doing a tree pose, yoga still provides the opportunity to improve their flexibility and balance. Increased balance and flexibility means that your loved one is less likely to take a fall, which, at their age, could seriously injure them or worse.
2. Better Awareness of Your Body
Yoga promotes a total body understanding that many different types of exercise do not. When seniors practice yoga, it is encouraged for them to be aware of different parts of her body at all times. They are to be focused on a single aspect of their body when they are doing their poses, or different mindfulness or breathing techniques. This kind of total body awareness can help seniors be less likely to fall or become injured, and can help them to better understand when they are feeling ill or injured in an area of their body.
3. Increased Brain Activity
A major aspect of practicing yoga is understanding mindfulness. Mindfulness, in short, is being able to focus on the here and now, and not to worry yourself over things that are out of your control. It may not seem like much, but encouraging seniors to practice mindfulness and truly focus their thoughts can help to increase their cognitive abilities. This is especially important for seniors, who have the beginning signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Increased brain activity also comes from the yoga poses themselves. Many different yoga poses include an action called crossing the midline, which means taking one part of your body, and crossing it over your body. For example, this could mean moving your right arm over to the left side of your body, or crossing your right leg over to the left side of your body. This kind of crossing the midline movement requires increased brain activity, so it may seem like a simple movement.
4. Better Strength and Endurance
Senior yoga instructors, including those at Serra Sol’s assisted senior living in San Juan Capistrano, don’t expect your senior loved one to go run a marathon after one yoga class. However, taking several yoga classes can really help to build a senior’s strength and endurance. Yoga isn’t cardio focused like many other exercise regimen; instead, it’s focused on building muscles and strength.
This kind of strength building is extremely important for seniors, because it allows them to do everyday tasks more easily. It can help seniors stand in the kitchen for longer, need less assistance in the shower, and make general tasks like walking around the apartment much safer. For seniors in wheelchairs or who need mobility aids, additional strength training, like that in yoga, may be able to provide a bit more assistance should they fall or need help.
Of course, strength training is not a cure. The benefits it provides, however, are important to understand.
5. Mindfulness and Relaxation
Mindfulness is one of the main tenets of practicing yoga, and encourages any participants to live and think in the moment. When you go to a yoga class, you’re encouraged to only think about the yoga to focus on the movement of your body, and let your mind calm itself from the anxieties of the day. Because of this, many people who practice yoga feel happier and much calmer after completing a session.
However, yoga practitioners encourage the use of this mindfulness technique even outside of yoga classes. Mindfulness is an amazing tool to have in your arsenal when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. It enables you to help sort out your feelings and not get so caught up in the what ifs and maybes. Because of this mindfulness practice, seniors who struggle with depression and anxiety may really benefit from going to yoga classes and understanding what mindfulness truly is.
Practicing Yoga at Serra Sol’s Assisted Senior Living in San Juan Capistrano
At Serra Sol’s assisted senior living in San Juan Capistrano, we understand how important it is for seniors to get up and be active. However, we also understand that many different types of exercises are simply not the most easily accessible to our senior loved ones, especially those who live in assisted living. This is why yoga is such an important aspect of any senior living community.
Yoga provides a low impact beginner-friendly way for seniors to get up, get active and try something new. Plus the different facets of yoga are easy to take out of yoga class and apply to your everyday life.
If you’re interested in seeing what Serra Sol can do for your loved one, contact us and schedule a tour today.