Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but past and present research suggests yoga and meditation could play a vital role in preventing and improving symptoms of the disease.
“If you or your relatives are trying to improve your memory or offset the risk for developing memory loss or dementia, a regular practice of yoga and meditation could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness,” – Helen Lavretsky, study author and a professor in residence in UCLA’s department of psychiatry, and a researcher at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
Source: Medical Daily
As we age our bodies can often feel like something we have to carry around with us… like a separate part of us is getting heavier or slower, yet on the inside we don’t necessarily feel this way.
One of the greatest benefits of yoga for seniors is that it helps us to reconnect with our bodies. Beyond just quieting the mind and reducing stress, yoga helps us understand where our aches and pains are and gives us the assistance we need to feel better. That connection to our bodies is so important to aging well, so we can continue exploring new passions in life!
When you stretch the back muscles on one side of your spine, a twist will strengthen your muscles on the other side. The pulling of the muscles on your spine help strengthen the vertebrae bones in your spine.
Photo:Karen Kapoor/Stone/Getty Images
One of the great things about yoga is that it is so adaptable to people with different physical abilities and needs. The benefits of yoga for seniors are similar to those for the general population: increased muscle tone, balance, strength, and improved mood.
But also through pranayama (breathing exercises) lung capacity is increased. You can expect your posture to improve and you may also sleep better. But remember that these benefits will not come overnight. Regularly attending yoga classes allow you to enjoy the best yoga has to offer!
In studies of women with breast cancer, yoga has been shown to reduce fatigue and improve quality of sleep, physical vitality, and overall quality of life.
At the 2003 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), results were reported from a yoga study involving 126 women recently diagnosed with Stage I or II breast cancer. The women were about to receive chemotherapy or hormonal therapy. Some of the women were assigned to yoga classes over a 3-month period. The women taking yoga had a 12% improvement in fatigue, physical functioning, and quality of life compared with those in the program who did not take the yoga classes.
In 2006, results of a yoga study were reported from an M.D. Anderson Cancer Center study. The study followed 61 women receiving 6 weeks of radiation treatment for breast cancer. Half the women took a yoga class twice a week; the other half did not. Compared with the women who did not take yoga, the women in the yoga group reported having more energy and less daytime sleepiness, better physical functioning, and better overall quality of life.
Yoga props help yogis of all ages and levels! They allow students to practice yoga with greater confidence. Props are effective, easy to use, provide stability, and stop you from overextending and injuring yourself.
The 3 most common props we use:
- BLOCKS. They can be used on the floor to you to assist with flexibility or to wake up dull areas of your body. They also help to “reduce the reach,” retrieve core stability, and provide distinct leverage in far-reaching forward bends. Blocks are super versatile.
2. BOLTERS. In short, bolsters do exactly what their name suggests—they bolster a part of the body in order to open, release, or support that part.
3. BELTS. Belts stabilize joints, encourage flexibility, support inflexible parts of the body, and create traction and space. Using a yoga belt can provide instant relief for people with compression somewhere in their body.
It’s always a good practice to grab some props before any yoga class. They allow you to practice with creativity and confidence!
Yoga is a low impact, gentle and therapeutic form of exercise that is safe for people who have breathing difficulties. Yoga involves stretches that open up the lungs and help expand lung capacity and function.
When someone is suffering from breathing issues, one of the best things to do is slow down, stop, and take a deep, full breath. Over time and with practice of slow, controlled breathing and movements, symptoms can lessen and you will find relief.
Alternate Nostril Breathing is a beautiful breathing technique that helps calm the mind and body in just a few minutes. The breathing technique is called Nadi Shodhan, and it helps release blocked energy channels in the body, which in turn calms the mind. It is also known as Anulom Vilom Pranayama.
How to do it:
- Sit comfortably, cross-legged or in any seat that supports the spine. Press your right thumb in to your right nostril and breathe in through the left side. Close the left side with your pointer finger and breathe out through the right side.
- Repeat breathing in through the right and exhaling out the left. Continue going from side to side for eight to twelve cycles. Notice how it opens up both airways and helps you breathe evenly through both sides.
Alternate nostril breathing helps expand lung capacity and calms the nervous system…perfect for those who suffer with asthma or other respiratory issues.
We all have those days when we just feel tired, with no energy at all to do anything, really. It is especially important on those “kind of days” to try some yoga for energy! Yoga is key to getting your blood flowing. You may think of yoga as being soothing and relaxing, but it can be incredibly energizing, too. Focus on your breath as you flow from posture to posture.
Tadasana, or Mountain Pose, is great to do in the morning. Mentally, it leaves you invigorated and motivated. Physically, it helps to create space within the body, allowing internal organs to work more efficiently. This is great for respiration as well as digestion and circulation. All good things to bring about more energy!
Age-related arthritis is a natural part of life, and by age fifty to sixty, most people have some degenerative changes in the spine. Studies have shown that those who practice yoga make significant gains in strength, flexibility, and endurance, which is a basic goal of most rehabilitation practices for disc degeneration. Yoga focuses on fortifying the back and core muscles by increasing blood flow to the discs, and this in turn, stimulates the restoration process.
An excellent yoga stretch for strengthening the spine is Cobra Pose.
MetS is a clustering of cardiovascular risk factors, which is associated with cardiovascular disease. Yoga has been shown to provide considerable health benefits, as a preventive measure and outcome. Studies have shown the positive effects of a yoga exercise program on the cardiovascular risk factors including central obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia and hyperglycemia in middle-aged and older adults with MetS.
“…Adults diagnosed with MetS using National Cholesterol Education Program criteria were randomly assigned to a 1-year yoga intervention group or control group. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure, waist circumference, fasting plasma glucose, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were examined at baseline, midway, and on completion of the study. Physical activity level and caloric intake were assessed and included in the covariate analyses…” – US National Library of Medicine
A reduction of the number of diagnostic components for MetS was found to be associated with the yoga intervention. Waist circumference was significantly improved after the 1-year yoga intervention. A trend towards a decrease in systolic blood pressure was observed following yoga intervention.
These results suggest that yoga exercise improves the cardiovascular risk factors including central obesity and blood pressure in middle-aged and older adults with MetS. These findings support the complementary beneficial role of yoga in managing MetS.
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