• Jack Maloney

Many seniors obtain general wellness from yoga – here’s why


Some people simply don’t feel right until they’ve practiced yoga for the day, which might explain its 5,000 year relevance. Today, modern medicine has uncovered surprising benefits of this ancient discipline, including stress relief and decelerated aging. In fact, yoga is an excellent way of improving overall wellness in seniors, even for those with physical limitations.

7 age- and stress-defying benefits of yoga

Yoga is an ancient Sanskrit word referring to methodologies for maximizing a person’s potential. In the Bhagavad Gita, the word covers a broad range of definitions including, for example, “clear, discerning, totally voluntary, dynamic participation in one’s life,” and, “selfless, cleansing, freeing, balancing, inspiring, and joyfully performed actions.”

When we think of yoga today, we visualize poses and controlled breathing techniques known as “hatha yoga.” This activity has benefits that transcend the obvious:

  1. Anti-aging. In a nutshell, much of aging is caused by the shortening of telomeres which eventually atrophy a cell’s ability to divide – technically known as senescence, but commonly recognized as “aging.” An Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity study concluded that 12 weeks of a yoga and meditation-based lifestyle slowed cellular aging.

  2. Reduced inflammation. Stress causes the body to release the cortisol hormone to control inflammation. Prolonged periods of stress and anxiety can lead to a cortisol tolerance, diminishing its anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation has been linked to heart disease, arthritis, and an increased cancer risk. A study conducted by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience revealed a reduction in stress and inflammation on participants engaged in a three-month yoga retreat.

  3. Dementia prevention. An additional finding of the yoga retreat study was a tripling of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF improves brain development and regulates neuroplasticity. Seniors suffering from depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer’s have depleted BDNF levels.

  4. Emotional release. The build-up of emotions such as anger, fear, and frustration are common sources of stress for all ages. The controlled breathing and poses practiced through hatha yoga –especially those involving the hips and shoulders – help release emotional stress.

  5. Decreased nuclear factor kappa B (NF-KB). Stress causes the release of NF-KB, which, in turn, can trigger inflammation. Multiple studies have shown a decreased production of NF-KB in those who practice yoga and meditation.

  6. More control. When we’re under stress, our breathing tends to become rapid and shallow, which can lead to even more anxiety. Breathing technique is a central element of hatha yoga. The deep, diaphragm-employing breaths practiced in yoga can help calm the body and curb stressful reactions.

  7. Yoga promotes a mind-body connection that makes us more in-tune with our bodies. The faster we recognize when we’re off balance emotionally or physically, the quicker we can formulate more mindful reactions, such as bringing breathing under control, rather than surrendering to emotional outbursts.

A holistic approach to home healthcare in South Florida

Unfortunately, life often becomes more stressful as we age. The increased need for medical attention combined with the loss of mobility can be difficult for senior citizens. Minimizing stress and its impact can help prevent further medical complications.

LiveWell Placements senior home referral service serves seniors in Palm Beach, Martin, Indian River, St. Lucie, and Broward Counties. To learn more about our senior living referral services, call LiveWell Placements at 561.245.2265 online contact form.

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