Yoga for Seniors – Gentle Exercises(Geriatric)
Simple yoga poses can help seniors to keep the system in balance
We are as young as we feel! Yoga asanas tone up the body, keep our internal organs and the hormonal system in balance, and refreshes the mind and spirit. Hence, it is essential for people of all ages to practice yoga regularly.
As age progresses, one should focus on doing to the best of our bodily abilities. It is more important to focus on HOW YOU DO rather than how much you can do.
1. Can Seniors (Above 65 Years) Do Yoga Asanas?
Yes, of course older people can do asanas. The basic premise in yoga is union – union of the various aspects of our existence like body, breath, mind etc. In fact the word yoga comes from a Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, which means ‘to unite’. Hence, it is possible for people of all ages and from all walks of life to utilize the techniques of yoga for creating a harmonious and joyful existence.
Elderly can do yoga asanas – provided they keep some guidelines in mind.
2. What Kind Of Asanas Should One Do As Age Progresses?
- Substitute warm-ups with brisk walking and joint movements.
- Standing Yoga Poses Triangle Pose (konasana series) and Standing Spinal Twist (Kati chakrasanas)
- Sitting Yoga Poses Butterfly Pose, Cradling (if possible), body rotation, Cat stretch and Child pose (Shishu Asana).
- Yoga Poses lying on the back or stomach Focus on repetitions rather than holding any posture such as the Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), the Locust Pose (Shalabhasana) or the Knee to Chin Press (Pawanmuktasana).
- Yoga nidra is by far the most essential part of any yoga practice, and as age progresses, it becomes even more essential to help assimilate the effect of the asana practice into our system.
3. Are There Any Easy Exercises For Senior People?
Sukshma Yoga may be practiced independently or as part of a larger yoga plan. People of every age can practice and receive the benefits of these exercises that can be comfortably practiced within 20-30 minutes. It includes simple and gentle exercises for the eyes, tongue and jaws, neck, hands, feet, knees, ankles and hips.
4. How Should Senior People Practice Yoga Asanas?
The Patanjali Yoga Sutras define asana as “sthira sukham asanam” that which is stable and comfortable is an asana. Thus, any posture, held with awareness, in a stable and comfortable manner constitutes an asana.
5. Are You Getting Your Yoga Practice Right?
Check your inner gauge, your smile-o-meter. Just do as much as you can, with a smile, for that is the indicator, which tells you whether you are doing it right or not.
6. How Does Yoga Practice For Seniors Differ From Those For The Young?
The same asanas performed by a younger individual could be more challenging in terms of effort put into the posture, the duration of holding the posture and amount of flexibility required. Some cardio vascular movements and abdominals would be more appropriate for a person with higher level of endurance and body fitness.
7. Do Yoga Asanas Increase The Efficiency Of Immune System For The Elderly?
Here again, the Patanjali Yoga Sutras provide a clue – it says – “heyam dukham anaagatam”, so that we can avoid the misery that has not yet come. As our age increases, the efficiency of our bodies and immune system seems to deteriorate, bringing on the possibility of various diseases. Regular practice of yoga techniques, such as asanas, pranayama and meditation can help to avoid these conditions, remove the misery, and lead to a happier and more fulfilling life.
Healing Scoliosis with Yoga
The human spine is formed of multiple vertebrae which protect and support the spinal cord. This set of bones are responsible for the ability to stand in an upright position. In Scoliosis, a condition particularly related to the spine, the individual’s spine is not straight but rather curved. A person whose spinal curvature is more than 10 degrees to the right or left, or even front or back can be a victim of Scoliosis. This particular deformity is observed amongst at least 0.5% population across the world and has more chances of occurrence amongst women.
Scoliosis restricts the individual’s movement capabilities and can be utterly painful. While surgery is a popular option for people suffering from Scoliosis, it is also advised to look into other forms of corrective measures before going under the knife. Of the various options available today, yoga is one which has been around for probably the longest time and is also very effective. An ancient technique that not only helps at a physical level but also works at the mental level, rendering courage and patience to overpower the pain associated with Scoliosis.
Bracing for change
The spine bears most of the weight of the body and hence is under constant stress. In the case of Scoliosis, this stress aggravates the pain further. Yoga helps strengthen the leg muscles, thus taking off a considerable amount of stress of the spine. Yoga is a mix of breathing techniques and different postures specifically aimed at correcting the spine’s shape. It may cause a bit of pain initially as the body gets adjusted to the postures, but will eventually subside and help you a long way. So, let’s get started with some simple yoga postures that will get your spine back in proper shape and rid you of Scoliosis.
Veerbhadrasana (Warrior pose)
True to its name, the Warrior pose brings courage, grace and peace to the body. It also strengthens the lower back, improves balance in the body and enhances the stamina. A stronger back and will can be of great help when dealing with Scoliosis.
Trikonasana (Triangle pose)
The Triangle pose is a standing pose that stretches the spine and increases mental and physical equilibrium. It also reduces stress and back pain, letting the pain subside.
Marjariasana (Cat pose)
The Cat pose is done on all fours. It adds more flexibility to the spine, improves blood circulation and relaxes the mind and is very good for those suffering from Scoliosis.
Shishuasana (Child pose)
Another sitting pose, the Child pose calms the nervous system and also relaxes the back. This particular pose is ideal for the people who suffer from Scoliosis as a result of neuromuscular condition.
Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
This pose stretches the lower back and relieves stress. It also reduces anxiety and fatigue and calms the mind.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog pose)
This yoga posture lengthens the spine and brings strength throughout the body, especially the arms, shoulders, legs and feet. Due to the help of this pose, the weight of the body can be distributed better to the legs and thus take stress off the spine.
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose)
This posture stretches and strengthens the spine and back muscles. It also reduces anxiety and stress and calms the brain.
Shalabasana (Locust pose)
The Locust pose adds flexibility and strength to the entire back. It also relieves the body of stress, fatigue and lower back-pain.
Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand)
The Shoulder stand makes the spine flexible and strengthens the arms and shoulders. This yoga pose also relaxes the mind.
Shavasana (Corpse pose)
End your yoga practice by lying down in the Corpse pose for a couple of minutes. This pose takes the body into a state of meditation and is also rejuvenating.
Pranayama and meditation
Yogic breath pranayama and Nadi Shodhan pranayama can help a lot to expand lungs as they stretch and strengthen chest muscles. The Panchkosha meditation helps accept the situation proactively and improve awareness and patience. Hari Om or Chakra Meditation help cleanse and energise ‘chakras’ and ‘naadis’ which in turn facilitates smooth flow of ‘prana’. Doing meditations with back support may make it easy initially.
Patience is the key
Like any other practice, the effects of practising yoga will show with time. Have patience and be consistent with your practice. You can join a local Art of Living Yoga course and learn more postures specific to healing Scoliosis. Practising yoga in a group is also a great way to unwind and is quite popular these days.
Respect your limits
Yoga requires a certain amount of physical exertion and thus you are advised to proceed with caution. Don’t stress your body or push your limits too much. Regular yoga practice will help increase your ability with time. Stretch only as much as your body can comfortably and relax there.
Scoliosis can be handled better by keeping a more optimistic outlook towards life. Speak to your friends and family, their support can help keep your spirits high. Have patience and faith in your practice, be consistent and enjoy it to the fullest.
Strengthen Your Kidneys with Yoga
Kidneys form an extremely important function of purifying the blood by filtering waste from it. They also help in functioning of the urinary system, secretion of hormones and maintenance of blood pressure level in the body. Kidneys also have the additional function of maintaining the level of acid and bases, i.e. homeostasis, in the body. Clearly, kidneys are one of the most vital organs in the body and should be cared for.
What Do Kidneys Do?
- Removes metabolic waste
- Absorbs essential nutrients
- Maintains homeostasis
- Helps filter blood
- Produces hormones
Studies suggest that kidney related diseases or conditions are more likely to be observed in developing nations where insufficient nutrition, stress and unhealthy lifestyle contribute to renal deterioration. According to a WHO research, close to a million lives are lost globally every year due to kidney and urinary-tract related complications. High blood pressure and diabetes are known to worsen the condition furthermore.
With the help of modern medicine and advanced medical equipment, doctors have been able to curb the damage caused to kidneys. However, these methods may not always be economical or may even lead to unforeseen complications. It is at times like these that one must turn towards side-effect free natural remedies. Yoga is one such ancient branch of holistic living that promotes healthy lifestyle through yoga poses, meditation and Ayurveda.
Yoga poses stimulate and massage various organs that help bring the body in an optimal condition. Along with yoga poses, turning to an Ayurvedic diet can keep the blood pressure levels and diabetes in check.
Start off with these simple yoga poses to ensure the health of your kidneys:
Salamba Bhujangasana (Sphinx pose)
The Sphinx pose stretches and strengthens the abdominal organs. It also raises the immunity level of the body.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sitting Half Spinal twist)
The Sitting Half Spinal twist stimulates the kidneys and liver. It also improves the body’s immunity level.
Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
The Cobra pose also stimulates the abdominal organs and relieves the body of stress and fatigue. It is also known to help improve immunity.
Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
The Seated forward bend is another kidney stimulating pose that also improves digestion and relieves you of menstrual discomfort.
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose)
The Bridge pose stimulates the abdominal organs, including the kidneys. It also helps bring high blood pressure under control and relieves the body of stress.
Naukasana (Boat pose)
The Boat pose strengthens and stimulates the abdominal organs. It also helps improve digestion and alleviates stress.
Ensure that you consume home cooked food and stay away from outside food. Include more fruits and green leafy vegetables in your platter. Keep away from foods with high-potassium content and include more iron-rich food in your diet. An ayurvedic diet is rich in nutrients and is highly recommended. Drink plenty of water and get a sleep of 6-8 hours every day.
Yoga has been around for more than two millennia and has helped people everywhere overcome their medical conditions the natural way. While it is a very effective method of keeping your kidneys healthy, yoga should not be used as a substitute for any medications that your doctor might have prescribed.
Practice yoga and meditation regularly, eat healthy and rest well to keep your body stress-free. A stress-free body responds more positively towards any therapy or cure than a stressed one. More importantly, stay positive and enjoy life to the fullest.