More seniors are practising yoga and exercise than 10 to 20 years ago due to greater awareness of the importance of good health. Seniors are more knowledgable about the prevention of disease and are aware that Yoga and Meditation provide a holistic approach to health, focusing on the mind-body connection. The Level 1 yoga exercises of the Yoga in Daily Life System are known as Sarva Hitta Asanas meaning exercises that are "good for everybody" regardless of age or degree of fitness. These movements mobilise the joints, strengthen and give flexibilty to the muscles, improve circulation and breathing and enhance the ability to relax.Seniors attending classes range from 55 to 80 years of age and all comment on the great benefits from the simple yoga movements.
Anyone aged 60 years and over is considered a senior citizen. The population’s death rate has drastically dropped and life expectancy has increased and the growth rate of this senior population is now expected to exceed the overall world population growth rate. Because of this there are more people in this age group in any given population and it is expected to increase. A large number of these people are maintaining good health both physically and mentally for longer periods of time.
Yoga can play a major role the aging process through the aims of the Yoga in Daily Life System : physical health, mental health, social health & spiritual heath. Let’s look at the physical level, the limitations of an aging body and its various diseases:
• restricted mobility
• joint stiffness
• muscle weakness
• failure of various sense organs i.e. eyesight, deafness and sense of balance
• susceptible to bone fractures, chest and urinary infections
• poor circulation
• poor digestion
• high blood pressure
• heart disease
• degenerative diseases of the brain and other organs i.e. prostate
The older we become the more problems arise. Also on a mental level:
• failing memory
• difficulty in learning
• poor concentration, reasoning and logic
• inflexible thinking process
On a social and emotional level there are concerns with:
• lack of self confidence and self esteem
• lack of trust
• fear of incapacity and death
• lack of personal space
• lack of finances
• slower pace of lifestyle and inability to adjust
And on a spiritual level:
• lack of focus or goal in life
Sarva Hitta Asanas (Good for Everybody) can be adapted for any group of seniors. (For those experiencing more problems postures can be adapted and performed in a chair). These postures improve joint mobility, circulation and flexibility. During the practice of the Yoga Asanas, the rhythmic alternation of stretching and contracting individual parts of the body causes blood and lymph to be squeezed out of the vessels. With each contraction there is a brief reduction in blood supply and then with each stretch the same area becomes flooded with a fresh supply of blood carrying oxygen and nutrients. In this way the muscles receive optimum nourishment, circulation is improved and there is better elimination of toxins and waste products.
In a survey of seniors attending our yoga classes, the following comments have been made:
• Increased mobility, energy and relaxation
• Huge increase in flexibility, strength & breathing capacity
• Arthritic pain in knees became bearable
• Improved posture, feel calmer and more peaceful
The breath work known as Pranayama, especially the techniques of abdominal breathing, the full yogic breath, nadi shodhan, bhramari and ujjayi, which are all good for concentration, enhancing the mental faculties, balancing the nervous system, and strengthening the lungs and heart.
The normal rate of breathing is fifteen times a minute which is 21,600 times every 24 hours. However, the number of breaths varies according to one’s way of life, health and emotional state. Pranayama lengthens the time taken by each inhalation and exhalation, thereby slowing the process of ageing.
In old age, respiratory function decreases due to contraction of the lungs air cells, which take in less oxygen. Pranayama will help to normalise their size and make the red corpuscles circulate in all parts of the body, infusing life and vigour throughout.
Meditation practices, such as the Self Enquiry Meditation technique, teaches complete physical and mental relaxation.
One of the benefits of practising yoga is the ability to change attitudes in order to support a more positive outlook on life, these include:
• Nurturing a positive attitude.
• Accepting the limitations of the aging body mind complex.
• Determining the aim and goal of life.
• Using the Self Enquiry Meditation technique to determine strengths and weakness and how to overcome negative attitudes and stress.
Yoga practices can increase lifespan and quality of life by decreasing metabolic rate, decreasing respiratory rate, providing total relaxation of the body and mind, increasing prana in aiding rejuvenation. Asanas keep the body flexible, less tension, less toxins. Pranayama helps to harmonise left and right hemispheres of the brain, as well as regulate the nervous system and increase prana (vital life force). Meditation allows for resting and rejuvenating nervous and endocrine systems, helping to revitalise brain and memory function. A positive mental attitude helps stimulate the nervous system and provide a purpose and goal in life.
Yoga creates a harmony between one’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects in a holistic way.
The Australian Association of Yoga in Daily Life is a not-for-profit volunteer community organisation under the auspices of the International Fellowship of Yoga in Daily Life. We have dedicated yoga centres and classes in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and affiliated organisations in many countries around the world.
We offer Beginner and Easy Yoga classes in all locations. Yoga in Daily Life is suitable for all ages and levels of physical ability. It is based on the classical path of Yoga and offers an aid to help attain optimum health on all levels: physical, mental, social and spiritual. Yoga is a science of body, mind, consciousness and soul.