Getting older can bring many new challenges, most of which are health-related issues. Roughly 80% of Irish adults over 50 are overweight or obese. In addition to joint pain, arthritis, and injuries, the risk of life-threatening ailments like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, etc., increases with age.
Considering these stats, the topic of ageing often renders fear and anxiety. The good news is that many things can help improve your well-being and overall health as a senior. Healthy eating, regular exercise, and routine social interaction are no-brainers. Likewise, brain training exercises and meditation can keep your mind active and sharp.
If you are struggling with joint pain, osteoarthritis, stress, and other physical conditions, consider incorporating yoga practice into your daily routine. Despite its myriad benefits, yoga often gets overlooked, especially by older people as they either don’t realize its advantages and have many misconceptions
Here are some of the most common misconceptions regarding yoga among seniors (debunked!):
I’m too old for yoga
When it comes to yoga, the word “old” becomes irrelevant. Inactive seniors are more likely to experience health issues such as heart diseases, blood pressure, and diabetes. On the other hand, yoga can not only keep your body healthy but also keep your mind sharp.
It’s too hard for me
You can’t even touch your toes; how can you do yoga? Well, the biggest fear and a popular misconception among seniors from trying yoga for the first time is the thought that it’s too hard. While flexibility is important for yoga, but nobody is flexible when they start. You’ll gradually, but surely get better with practice, even though you might not be as good as you’d have been when you were young. Moreover, some yoga styles are more challenging while others such as Restorative, Hatha or Yin are very gentle and can be a great starting point.
Yoga is just another exercise
Many people think yoga is an exercise, which is only partly true. Yes, it’s a way of developing the body, but it doesn’t focus just on your physical strength. Instead, it is a comprehensive approach to improving mental and emotional health in addition to physical strength.
I exercise regularly; I don’t need a yoga routine
Seniors with an active lifestyle might think they’re too fit to do yoga. But as mentioned earlier, yoga isn’t just an exercise and offers holistic benefits for your body as well as the mind. Moreover, there are some very challenging routines of yoga, such as Ashtanga, and Power Yoga.
I’m disabled; yoga isn’t for me
Chair yoga is one of the most popular and extremely beneficial routines for people with disabilities. It can help increase flexibility, tone muscles, and increase lubrication of joints and tendons. Remember, safety always comes first. Consult your doctor before starting your yoga routine, make sure someone is always around while you’re doing yoga, and stretch to a point where you feel mild tension – never stretch through pain.
I’m not healthy enough to start yoga
Health issues can keep increasing with age, both in number and intensity. Many seniors think they need to be fully fit to start yoga, however, contrary to popular belief, yoga can be done by people in various health conditions, even if you are in a wheelchair. Moreover, when backed by medicine or other treatments, it can also help with certain conditions including arthritis, chronic pain, hypertension, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and more.
I’ll look bad in yoga outfit
While many people who are in great shape will wear revealing clothing to show off their bodies, yoga doesn’t require you to don any particular outfit. It can be done in any ordinary, comfortable clothing that doesn’t interfere with your movements.
Yoga is only for vegetarians – I’m not one
This misconception is common. Yoga will help you get into shape, be more flexible, attain inner peace, and learn how to relax. Many yoga gurus encourage vegetarian diet and think it’s against ahimsa, the spirit of yoga that prohibits eating animals as it considers it violent to take another living being’s life. However, there is nothing set in stone that necessitates for every yogi to be vegetarian. In fact, many yogis in the US eat meat and drink alcoholic beverages, and still enjoy virtually all the benefits of yoga.
I might get hurt
When done properly, yogic exercises are extremely safe. When starting out, one-on-one sessions with a knowledgeable instructor can be highly beneficial. Tell the instructor about any physical conditions or recent injuries. And if you can’t afford a personal trainer, there are countless tutorials and videos available on the internet that can teach you the correct posture and style for yoga.
If you haven’t done any physical activity in a while, always start slowly, and better yet, consult an expert before starting – even if you’re doing the gentlest yoga such as Hatha or Vinyasa. Also, listen to your body and keep an eye on your vital signs. If it hurts, stop and start at a lower intensity the next time. Your respiration rate, pulse, temperature, and blood pressure shouldn’t be very abnormal during and after the workout.
Consider investing in monitoring devices like fitness tracking watch, blood pressure monitor, etc., to keep an eye on your physical condition, especially if you do yoga at home.
In short, yoga is a great way for keeping both your mind and body healthy, irrespective of your age, gender, or physical condition. However, make sure you know the correct way to do yoga and don’t overburden or overstretch yourself.
Consulting an expert, or at least doing some basic research about the yogic exercises you’re doing will go a long way. And if you had any of the misconceptions mentioned above about yoga, now you know these are nothing but myths. Don’t let them be a hindrance in your way to a healthier, happier life.
Jessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle she works to share valuable information and helpful resources, like this list of the best blood pressure monitors, aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others.
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