Yoga and Old Age

‘Old Age’ can give off both positive and negative notions. In some cultures the elderly are shown lots of respect and admired for their wisdom and knowledge. However, in other cultures they are seen as needy, time consuming and a drain on society, leading them to be ignored.

In the modern world people are working longer hours and so have less time to look after their elderly relatives. Health is also an issue as old aged people are prone to illnesses more so than when they were younger. With illness comes the greater need to be looked after and there is also the financial side of things.

All these factors can put a strain on the family and in some cases leave elderly relatives isolated. Isolation itself is not good for one’s mental health. The brain is like a muscle that needs exercise or it stops working properly. The best way to exercise the brain is by human interaction and this type of stimulation fights the onset of mental health issues associated with old age such as dementia.

It would seem that the healthier the old aged are the less of a strain they become of the family and are therefore more included in the family structure. Not for one minute am I saying this is right but by maintaining both physical and mental health elderly family members could be treated with the respect they deserve within modern societies.

Yoga has proven to have a positive impact on the lives of old aged people. There are a number of factors to consider, firstly the human interaction by going to a yoga class can relieve loneliness and boredom and provide the brain with the stimulation it needs. Yoga is an aerobic exercise and it is well researched that aerobic exercises release endorphins and create changes in the brain that make you feel good and help fight mental health diseases such as depression.

There are also the physical benefits associated with exercise. Yoga improves aerobic fitness levels, which means people doing yoga will have more energy and be less fatigued by the activities they do. Some of the core things yoga improves such as balance, core strength and flexibility can also help old aged people.

Most movements start with the core and by doing yoga all these movements will become easier and less stressful to the body. Flexibility is also extremely useful as it allows the body to create the same force with smaller movements, reducing the risk of injuring muscles and joints. Then there is balance which, is probably the most important when it comes to the elderly. Old aged people can be susceptible to losing their balance and in doing so injure themselves from taking a fall. Between the core strength and improved balance this is less likely to happen.

It is important to find a teacher who has experience in delivering yoga classes for the elderly. Some modifications may be required to take into account any ailments that old aged people might have. It is normal to reduce the length of time poses are held for with elderly people.  Research has shown that yoga can help with health issues such as high blood pressure, heart rate, coronary problems, reduces the chance of getting diabetes and is good for the prostate gland to mention just a few.