Meditation and Yoga with Seniors

Just in time for the season of spring-cleaning, we want to offer tips for seniors on how to clear their minds with a relaxing fitness regime, such as meditation and yoga. By allowing your body to relax and de-stress with peaceful exercises and helpful stretches, you are recharging yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.

For seniors, this refreshing feeling is important for their bodies. By practicing yoga, meditation or any low-impact fitness class, they are allowing their bodies to stay young and have more energy. Different and diverse levels of yoga and meditation classes are available for all residents at Sagora Senior Living communities. Kimmy Engen, Health and Fitness Coordinator at Sagora community Lakeview at Josey Ranch in Carrollton, TX, graciously gave us a few tips on meditation and yoga that can be helpful for anyone.

Breathe
Meditation is a time to connect with your body in the present moment. It allows you to clear your mind and become aware of how you are feeling at that very second. When you begin to meditate, you may be feeling tense or anxious. By taking slow, deep breaths, you can start to feel more at ease and relaxed. The more you focus your mind on your breathing, the more it will allow you to forget about past and future events that may cause anxiety. If your mind wanders, you can try calling yourself back to the present by saying short phrases such as “thinking” or “be present.”

Seniors fitness coach
Kimmy Engen, Health and Fitness Coordinator at Lakeview at Josey Ranch

Where Do I Start?
Local yoga studios are a great place to start, or, if you prefer to start out on your own, you can meditate at home. Meditation CD’s and books are available online or in stores, along with meditation apps on your iPhone or Android. You can also go to YouTube.com for videos at any skill level. We recommend “The Honest Guys.”

How Do I Start?
Start with 3-5 minutes of meditation to see how you respond to it, and then build up more over time once you get comfortable. You can practice meditation anytime throughout the day to help you recharge, de-stress, or relax. Make this time about you to help improve your overall health and wellbeing. You will be surprised as to how much it will help improve how you feel, act, think, sleep, approach situations, and your productivity.

Find a comfortable position in either a chair or cross-legged on the floor. Rest your eyes on one object, or gently close them. Place your hands comfortably at your side or on your lap. Keep your back as straight as possible and stay relaxed. If you feel any physical pain, adjust your seating before continuing. Once you feel relaxed, start to focus on your breath. Watch your inhales and exhales, and focus on your breath, and the impact it has on your body. If sitting is uncomfortable, you can find walking meditations online through Google or YouTube.

In the Moment with Yoga
In yoga, you must be present in the moment in order to complete each move or you could lose balance, fall out of poses, or use improper technique, which could cause injury. In addition to meditation, yoga is a great practice to incorporate into your weekly or daily lifestyle. We see it as another form of relaxation and meditation, yet others may use it for cross training to go along with another activity that they love. Yoga allows you to flow through different movements, poses, and stretches that require concentration and focus.

Yoga and meditation with our seniors and Kimmy at Lakeview at Josey Ranch
Yoga and meditation with Kimmy at Lakeview at Josey Ranch

You must focus on the breath throughout each move in order to stay aware, and to help eliminate any tension the body may be feeling at that time. Taking your mind off of any discomforts can help you recollect yourself and find peace. The more you practice yoga, the easier it becomes. You can practice yoga on a mat or in a chair depending on your physical ability, so don’t think you are limited to only doing it one way. This practice is different from running or biking, where you can get lost in your thoughts and still keep moving.

*Although there are many yoga DVD’s and YouTube videos, we recommend you find a senior yoga class with an instructor to help ensure safety and guidance.

A Peaceful Sleep
These mind-body connection techniques, such as clearing the mental clutter and focusing on the breath, can help produce a more peaceful mind. Learning how to meditate will help you turn your mind off at night. We tend to let our mind wander over things such as what happened that day and what you have to do tomorrow. Through daily meditation and yoga practice, you will be able to clear your mind faster of unwanted thoughts, and focus on rest and relaxation for a better night’s sleep.

Overall, these types of wellness programs offer diverse levels of skill so anyone can enjoy and benefit from them. There are different types of meditation to try out, such as: sitting, laying, walking, imagery work, body scans, and more. For yoga, classes can range from cardio yoga for more of a work out, to a mix of pilates and yoga, to a more restorative class, where the primary concern is making sure you are stretching your body correctly. Explore, identify which one works best for you, and make it a daily habit to incorporate wellness into your lifestyle.

At Sagora, our communities offer a range of classes that best suit our residents’ needs. From chair yoga to Tai chi, we are committed to making sure they have a proper fitness regime not only by keeping up with their health, but through socialization in the classes with other residents, and a dedicated fitness coordinator at select communities.

Visit our wellness page on the Sagora site to learn more.

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