So often, when we think about yoga and meditation, we think about it in terms of part of a “normal” weekly routine. But a couple groups of people who may not realize the extreme benefits are seniors and also caregivers. I recently virtually met a gentleman who works with these groups and he has a lot to share about the benefits and how to incorporate yoga and meditation into daily life for both of these groups of people. Read on to discover what Harry Cline from newcaregiver.org has to share!
It seems that everyone is embracing yoga and meditation, which is not surprising, as both practices offer some very real benefits. This is especially true for those of us in stressful lines of work, as well as seniors and their caregivers. If you’re curious about looking after your mental and physical health, it’s time to learn about yoga and meditation.
How Yoga Helps
One of the best parts of yoga is that it is the perfect exercise for all body types and ages. It helps us lose weight and gain strength and stability, all while improving our moods and mental clarity. Yoga helps to reduce stress better than any other form of exercise, and it may be better for our overall health than aerobics. It can even lower pain levels in seniors.
Working out, especially as we age, carries with it the risk of injury. However, yoga reduces that risk through a focus on slow movement, stretching, and balance improvements. This becomes even more important in our golden years when we may not heal as quickly as we once did.
There are seemingly endless benefits to the practice, especially for seniors and caregivers, as it can also help us breathe more easily and even lower blood pressure. As for our mental health, yoga can help us better cope with anxiety, as well as lessen the symptoms of depression. And because mental health has connections to physical conditions (oral health, heart health, weight, etc.), you’ll also pay additional attention to your physical well-being. In other words, it really is one of the healthiest forms of exercise.
Another aspect of physical health that is benefited by yoga is your gut microbiome. Your gut is made up of trillions of bacteria that, according to research, can affect digestion, your immune system, and even your mood. The key to good gut health is proper diet and exercise to reduce stress levels and improve the function of all areas of your body. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise, since it can enhance digestion and increase the diversity of your microbiome.
Life can be stressful, especially if we have difficult or emotionally challenging jobs. Meditation is one way of lowering that stress and improving how we feel. It can even improve memory by increasing the amount of gray matter in our frontal cortexes. Meditation also helps us make better decisions and think more quickly on our feet, which is especially beneficial for caregivers. If you need to remember many details, or even simply want to improve your memory as you age, it might be wise to take up meditation. We know for a fact that meditation can reduce stress thanks to a study by the US military. The researchers monitored heart rates to measure stress levels and found that meditation was a sure fire way to lower anxiety levels over time.
Working Out at Home
Starting yoga does not need to be an intensive ordeal. To determine if you enjoy it, you don’t need to go out for classes, as this can be difficult for busy schedules and seniors. Thankfully, there are plenty of workout routines seniors and their caregivers can try at home thanks to websites like YouTube, exercise videos, fitness apps on our phones and tablets, and even things like Wii Sports. Look around and see what is available, and what appeals to you. There are also several lists for the best instructional videos, so do some research to find a practice that you might enjoy, fits your athletic level, and your timetable.
Finding the Right Meditation
The sheer number of different kinds of meditation can be overwhelming; however, that also – means there are lots for you to choose from. Read up on the different methods of meditating before you jump in so you can find something you know would not be onerous to try. Some may prefer focused attention, which can have you adopt a mantra, rather than something like basic mindfulness. There are guided meditations available that benefits seniors and caregivers alike, and these are especially helpful if you have a hard time focusing. You can listen to soothing music, count beads, watch a candle, or practice deep breathing. There is even a walking meditation for those of us who need to be doing something to concentrate best.
You don’t need to change every aspect of your life to get healthier, whether you’re a caregiver or a senior. Yoga and meditation done for 20 minutes a day can see a marked improvement in our well-being. It’s time to prioritize wellness and give yourself the devotion you deserve. Meditation and yoga are two excellent ways to improve our focus, balance, and strength.