By: Shanyn Olpin
Do you know anyone who is suffering from osteoporosis, arthritis, curvature of the spine, depression, stress, or just not being able to reach down and tie their shoes?
In a study done by The American Journal of Public Health, Yoga was found to help those who were in their 60’s who suffered from “dowager’s hump” (excessive curvature of the spine).
Yoga helped to:
• reduce these curvatures.
• increase walking speed.
• improved reaches (which helps a person be able to tie their shoes.)
Another study compared seniors who did not practice yoga to those that did a 10 minute yoga routine regularly over the course of two years.
• When bone density was measured, those in the control group had either maintained or lost bone density while 85% of those in the yoga group had gained it!
This shocked the director of the study, Dr. Loren Fishman who said “By putting tremendous pressure on the bones, without harming the joints, yoga may be the answer to osteoporosis.”
• Dr. Fishman has gone on to write “Yoga for Osteoporosis” & “Yoga for Arthritis.”
So yoga is a great tool to create strong boned, flexible seniors, but what about those who are stressed or depressed? Yoga has been found to be beneficial for both.
• “Though hatha yoga appears to be mostly a physical experience, it tends to do much more than just improve the physical condition. Yoga is also very relaxing to the mind. By focusing on the breath and on the pose, it leaves the stressors of the day behind. Yoga also reduces the stress response and brings us back to a more balanced state of being,” explains Dr. Michael Olpin.
Another relatively new trend is also catching on with seniors called Laughter Yoga. Laughter Yoga is a mix of deep breathing exercises, stretching, and you guessed it – laughter.
This new twist on yoga was created in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria, when he found that fake laughter offered the same benefits as real laughter. This technique has been found helpful with those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, as they often do not understand humor or what is actually funny.
Fake laughter can also lead to real laughter and having a good laugh tends to have many health benefits. More and more nursing homes and assisted living facilities are offering programs in Laughter Yoga for their residents.
So whether you are 5, 55, or 105, you may want to consider adding a bit of yoga to your life. As B.K.S. Iyengar once said, “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” Namaste.