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Yoga for the elderly
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Physiological Benefits
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Yoga Benefits vs. Exercise Benefits
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Yoga for the elderlyOld age is the stage when one has more time for oneself, family, leisure and relaxation. It is also the stage that gives birth to diseases like arthritis, rheumatism, incontinence and high blood pressure. In the old age, the body also becomes old and loses the power to resist and fight diseases. So one should be more watchful and cautious about health.

The degeneration of the body also limits the types of exercises one can practice. This leads to the practice of milder forms of exercise such as jogging, brisk walking, and even Yoga.

Yoga is a form of exercise that can be altered according to your needs and abilities. It breaks the boundaries of age and shape of the body. It not only improves a particular part of the body, but also improves the health of the body as a whole. It works both at the physical as well as the mental level. It makes your body fitter, the mind calmer and more relaxed. Yoga is also beneficial in the prevention and control of common health and emotional problems that is linked with Old Age. It helps you in becoming more in touch with yourself and your body enabling you to accept who you are and the state you are in. Thus creating a positive approach towards life.

Some of the Yoga Asanas can work wonders. Yoga offers a wide range of Asanas for almost every ailment. But one should always practice Yoga under the guidance of a proper teacher.

In practicing Yoga, one should respect the limitations of the body. Unlike allopathy, yoga requires patience and time to prove its benefits. Yoga aims to quiet the mind as you exercise the body. If you feel pain, stop what you are doing. The following is a Basic Yoga Session for the Elderly. You do not have to do all the poses, stop when you already feel tired.

The elderly should take some general precautions when practicing yoga. One might have a specific physical problem but, elderly people usually hesitate from telling it to the teacher. In this case, the teacher should also refrain from asking questions, but always take some precautions in order to prevent difficulties and minimize any risk such as:
  • No full head rotations, just gentle neck movements with the breath - forward, backwards, sideways and turning (greeva sanchalana stages 1, 2 and 3, Pawanmuktasana part 1).

  • No holding of the breath in (antar kumbhaka), only holding of the breath out (bahir kumbhaka).

  • Never bring the head down lower than the heart in standing poses.

  • Only a few breathing techniques (pranayama) are recommended: simple 'humming bee breath' (bhramari pranayama); inhaling, counting slowly to 4 and exhaling counting slowly to 8; natural 'deep' breathing, abdominal breathing, eventually practised in combination with postures (asanas); yogic breathing (might be difficult); simple alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana).

  • Breathing with awareness of the psychic passage in the spine (ujjayi pranayama) is recommended.

  • No throat locking (jalandhara bandha) or navel locking (uddiyana bandha) should be performed.

  • Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor are very important: 'pulling up from underneath' (moola bandha), bladder sphincter control (vajroli mudra) and anal sphincter control (ashwini mudra).

  • Rolling the tongue back (khechari mudra) is fine, but should be performed gently and without effort.


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