We all know yoga has its benefits, but why is it especially good for baby boomers? Isn’t it for younger generations who are more flexible? No! Yoga is for everyone. But boomers should especially take a look at the health benefits, not to mention the anti-aging effects. The poses can improve circulation, balance, flexibility and strength, and meditation techniques decrease stress levels. Here are three key reasons why you should look for the nearest yoga class and start today.
In a recent study, the University of California conducted an experiment with 25 participants over the age of 55 who had some form of mild cognitive impairment. The study put participants into two groups: one received memory exercises and training while the other group practiced meditation and yoga.
One group participated in 20 minutes of memory exercises a day and an hour of memory training each week. The other group practiced Kirtan Kriya meditation for 20 minutes a day and took a Kundalini yoga class once a week. After 12 weeks, both groups exhibited better verbal skills, but those who participated in yoga experienced improvements in visual-spatial memory which is an essential skill for walking, driving and other complex tasks. Those who participated in yoga and meditation also were more resilient regarding stress and saw significant improvements concerning depression.
The poses focus on stretching, breathing and relaxation which can lead to greater flexibility and increased range of motion. Flexibility can also lead to relief from joint and muscle pain. And yoga is a low impact activity that doesn’t put as much stress on the body as many other types of exercise. We’ve all heard the term “no pain, no gain” but the opposite, “no pain, big gain,” may be more appropriate for yoga. By avoiding and relieving pain, you can stick with this gentle form of exercise more easily than many other activities. And through consistent practice, you can reap the rewards.
If you’ve tried yoga before, you’ve probably noticed the positions sometimes focus on areas of the body you don’t typically stretch, including joints, ligaments and tendons. By putting emphasis on all areas of the body, you are able to gain more flexibility through continued effort. The poses are designed to reinforce the muscles around the spine, specifically the core. Neck, back and shoulder pain can be the result of core muscles that have not been toned or strengthened. Greater core strength can lead to better posture and increased balance. Creating a stronger core can alleviate that pesky back, shoulder and neck pain caused by poor posture, hours of sitting and many other daily activities.
Another benefit of flexibility? It can improve balance, which in turn can help prevent falls. Falls and subsequent injuries account for approximately 10 percent of emergency room visits and six percent of urgent hospitalizations among older adults. Falls are often associated with restricted agility, but yoga strengthens flexibility and increases mobility. This adds up to improved agility.
Another benefit of yoga is its ability to improve overall health. Considered a union of mind, body and spirit, yoga can help fight off depression and can also ward off osteoporosis while creating a positive effect on internal organs and the digestive and nervous systems.
This exercise is not just about working out, but about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Classes teach that peace and tranquility can be achieved through focus, decluttering the mind and relieving stress. For years, it has been known to serve as a stress reliever by increasing the immune system’s inflammation response. In a study done by UCLA, people who care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients experienced reduced immune system inflammation after participating in regular classes. Try a class yourself and enjoy the many benefits including the social aspects. Not only will you improve your memory, increase flexibility and reduce stress, but you might even meet some new friends.