The month of May is Older American’s Month and is a time we honor senior citizens, we remember their countless contributions, and we proudly renew our abiding commitment to their well-being and independence.
Yoga is an amazing practice for people of any age, especially for the aging body. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all aging and at some point, we will be older adults—if we aren’t that already.
As the body ages, we start to deal with different health issues which often impact our quality of life. Yoga is a great way to keep the body healthy to allow us to enjoy the things we love for as long as possible. Here are a few benefits of practicing yoga regularly:
Increases the health of joints and decreases joint pain
Increases energy levels
Increases strength, flexibility, respiration
Decreases risk for osteoporosis
Releases endorphins which combat depression
Improves sleep and insomnia
Improves posture and range of motion
Relieves stress, tension, and anxiety
Improves foot and pelvic floor health
Develops core strength and decreases back pain
Stimulates brain function
Osteoporosis and arthritis is something that many older adults experience. It is estimated that 200 million women worldwide are affected by osteoporosis and that almost 54 million Americans adults suffer from arthritis. Arthritis is the number one leading cause of disability among U.S. adults.
One of the major factors in both of these is a sedentary lifestyle. Not moving causes our bones to lose their strength and impacts that the health of our joins. Often a person becomes more and more sedentary because of pain. Yoga provides a gentle way to move the body without causing pain.
Below are some great range of motion exercises for the head, neck, and shoulders. When practicing these movements remember to go slow and to stop if anything feels uncomfortable. We don’t want to enter into pain.
Lift chin towards the ceiling, then slowly drop chin to the chest.
Release chin toward the chest. Slowly roll head toward one shoulder, then back to the center and then toward the other shoulder (move head like the pendulum of a clock).
Drop ears to the shoulder.
Turn head to the right and then the left.
Open the mouth wide.
Move the lower jaw forward.
Tuck the chin.
Draw shoulders up to the ears and then relax.
Circle shoulders forward and backward.
Reach both arms out to the side and upward.
Reach the arm out to the side and then give yourself a hug.
Bend elbows and rotate forearm in and out.
Rub your back with your palms facing outward.
Circle arms forward and back, side to side, up and down, in and out, in Figure 8.
Bend and straighten at the elbow
We dive deeper into these movements and benefits in the Therapy Instructor Training program. If you have a desire to come alongside those struggling with a condition or illness that impedes their quality of life, then this training might be for you. Holy Yoga Therapy Instructors work one-on-one, developing relationships as well as practices that transform lives. Wether it’s to help others or just to better understand your own body, this program is a must take!
Christina Mroz is a Lead Trainer for Holy Yoga Global®, LLC. She leads an array of HYG's specialty trainings from Kids, Pre/Postnatal, Chair/Senior, Weights, Yogalates, Plus, Adaptive, and Therapy Yoga certifications with an emphasis on alignment and accessibility for all ages and abilities. Christina is an E-RYT 200 hour and continuing education provider through Yoga Alliance. She teaches yoga and movement classes in Somerset, WI and through her blog christinamroz.com