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Published: September 15, 2021


Yoga stretch

As the cooler days of fall approach and before the holiday distractions arrive, many of us turn inward and look for quiet ways to move our body and our mind.

Sure, you enjoy taking a relaxing walk through the park or neighborhood - and this time of year is a glorious time to do so - but maybe something is nudging you to try something new or revisit a once-favorite activity.

Head to the Yoga Mat

Yoga is a mind and body practice that is beneficial for all ages, including older adults.

“While age does affect you in various ways, there’s a lot you can do to limit its impact on your body. Yoga is an excellent anti-aging tool, capable of relieving symptoms and in some cases improving medical outcomes,” according to Sage Rountree and Alexandra DeSiato, author of “Lifelong Yoga.”

The authors list 15 health benefits of yoga for older adults. Here are just 5 of them:

  1. For arthritis, yoga can reduce joint pain and inflammation and improve joint flexibility.
  2. For back pain, yoga can improve core strength to better support your spine.
  3. For stiffness, yoga can help keep your body fluid and flexible.
  4. For high blood pressure, yoga can reduce pressure, according to some studies.
  5. For insomnia, yoga can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

A pose for all ages is savasana, or corpse pose, typically done to conclude the practice. The pose removes fatigue and soothes the mind. Simply lie flat on your back, eyes closed, arms away from your torso with palms up, legs apart and dropped gently to the sides.

“Yoga is a vehicle for inner growth and development. It strengthens and keeps one flexible and quiets the restless mind. It can be adapted to fit everybody, no matter what size, shape, age, or physical condition,” says Lilias Folan, who introduced yoga to millions in her 1972 PBS television series Lilias! Yoga and You.” The Cincinnati area resident has written several books, including “Lilias! Yoga Gets Better with Age.”

It’s easy to begin a yoga practice. All you need is a yoga mat, a couple of blocks and maybe a strap to help move your body into deeper stretches. Finding a teacher is also easy. As a result of the pandemic online yoga classes and apps are plentiful, offering a wide selection of teaches and classes (from beginner to advanced). Or contact your local yoga studio, which may also offer online classes until you feel comfortable heading inside.

Try Tai Chi, a Meditative Motion

Online classes, including free ones, are also available for tai chi, an ancient Chinese practice originally developed for self-defense but now a gentle form of exercise. It involves a series of slow-paced movements that flow one into the next, accompanied by deep breathing. Benefits of tai chi include increased flexibility and balance and decreased stress and anxiety.

“Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. In fact, because tai chi is a low impact exercise, it may be especially suitable if you're an older adult who otherwise may not exercise,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Studies have shown tai chi to reduce falls in older adults by up to 45%, says Dr. Peter Wayne, research director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Another study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found the program particularly effective for balance in people with Parkinson’s disease.

“In a very real sense, tai chi helps us to stay younger as we grow older, thus making an outstanding contribution to our overall health and well-being,” according to the Tai Chi Foundation.


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Author Molly Kavanaugh 2020In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.

About Kendal at Oberlin: Kendal is a nonprofit life plan community serving older adults in northeast Ohio. Located about one mile from Oberlin College and Conservatory, and about a 40 minute drive from downtown Cleveland, Kendal offers a vibrant resident-led lifestyle with access to music, art and lifelong learning.