Starting a Yoga and Meditation Practice When You’re Older

Yoga and meditation hail from India, where they have been used for centuries to achieve a sense of balance and inner peace. Since then, they have become somewhat of a trend in the West, with more and more people discovering their benefits every day. If you’ve always wondered whether yoga and meditation are for you, your golden years are a great time to start.

What Are They?

Yoga is a physical practice based on a series of shapes and movements performed slowly and with a focus on breathing. It combines strength, balance, and flexibility into one workout and comes in a variety of styles. Meditation involves sitting still and attempting to clear your mind. This is most commonly done by concentrating on your breath (known as mindful breathing), but other forms of meditation can involve chanting and visualization.

Many consider yoga to be a type of meditation since its focus on breathing and repetition can have a meditative effect. However, they both have their own merits and a practice that combines both is the best way to get all the benefits.

What Are the Benefits?

Yoga combines the health benefits of a workout with those of meditation. It is infinitely adaptable to your fitness levels and has almost infinite possibilities, making it a great fitness solution for everyone. It has been shown to help with everything from flexibility to posture, joint and bone health, pain management, balance, and digestion -- all common complaints for seniors. It has also been used to treat anxiety and depression, as it can be excellent for your mental health.

Meditation, while not a physical activity, is great for your mind. The benefits of regular meditation go beyond the time you spend sitting in silence. By learning to tap into your breath to create a sense of inner peace, you give yourself the ability to handle everyday worries and anxieties in a healthy, productive way. It could also help you stay sharp and focused as you grow older.

How to Get Started

Perhaps the best thing about yoga and meditation is how easy they are to incorporate into your routine. The internet enables you to build an at-home practice that is completely built around your fitness level, schedule, and space, with no more investment than a yoga mat.

YouTube is the best place to look for free yoga classes. Yoga with Adriene is the most popular yoga channel available, with a wide range of videos and an emphasis on how yoga feels rather than looks -- try the yoga for seniors to get you started.

For meditation, the Headspace app is a great tool for beginners. The introductory set of guided meditation practices are free, and then you can pay small amounts for more tailored practices depending on what you wish to get from your meditation.

As you build your confidence and interest, you can then look for classes and groups near you. Feedback from a professional instructor is the best way to improve your skill and take it to the next level, and you will also get to meet other people with the same passion. You can even create your own meditation space in your home. Find a room that’s relaxing and away from areas with high traffic.

Other Online Resources

Older adults should be aiming for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, but it doesn’t all have to come from yoga. The internet has plenty of resources for workouts you can do from the comfort of your own home, all of them easily adaptable to your fitness level.

There are also various at-home exercises for seniors, including stretching, walking, and games (the Nintendo Wii is great for moving around). Videos and games are particularly useful if you prefer to be guided through your workouts. If you like to switch things up and be in control of your workout, start by trying out some of these equipment-free strength and balance exercises and combine the ones you like best into your own personalized routine.

Yoga and meditation are both great ways to take control of your wellness as you get older. When combined and regularly practiced, they can be a genuine source of pleasure, relaxation, and well-being that will help you keep your body and mind in great shape.

Written by: Harry Cline, creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.