Written by Panorama resident and yoga instructor, Charles Kasler. August 2017
Panorama has a very active yoga/meditation community. We are friends as well as we practice together and look after each other. These pictures are from our annual summer solstice vigil in the Pea Patch garden. We also had a recent workshop on breathing. Our next event will be high tea for the fall equinox in the Seventeen51 Restaurant and Bistro.
Why is yoga so popular with seniors? Because it slows down aging, helps us feel better and maintains quality of life. There are five primary areas in which yoga can be therapeutic for seniors:
- Preventative – high blood pressure, heart disease, falls
- Curative – musculoskeletal conditions (this also requires maintenance)
- Maintenance – maintaining quality of life with chronic illness such as muscular dystrophy or rheumatoid arthritis
- Palliative – improving quality of life with terminal illness such as cancer
[yoga is medically recognized as a support for side effects of chemotherapy: fatigue, nausea, digestive problems, loss of appetite, anxiety & depression, weakened bones, pain, nervous system disturbance, cognitive problems]
- Rehabilitation – after heart attack, stroke, surgery
Yoga massages the muscles: relieving chronic pain and tension, reducing fatigue, improving flexibility and symmetry, toning and strengthening muscles as well as connective tissue. Balance also improves.
Yoga stimulates circulation of all of the fluids: blood, the lymphatic system, and the very fluids that are within and surround each cell of the body. This improved circulation lessens stress on the heart, lowers blood pressure, and promotes healthy metabolism of each cell. It thins the blood and increases the number of red blood cells. Improved lymphatic drainage boosts immunity and enhances detoxification. Circulation to the skin improves as well. The heart becomes stronger even as its workload lessens. The resting heart rate lowers. Improved circulation transports hormones released by the endocrine system.
Skeletal structure improves: joints align increasing their range of motion as well as being supported by (newly toned) muscles. Pain in the joints may decrease, especially the back. Bone density increases through weight bearing. Symptoms of arthritis can diminish. Posture improves dramatically. Movement is more efficient and requires less effort. Balance and kinesthetic awareness improve. Feet open up.
The respiratory system functions better as we learn proper breathing: we release tensions that restrict the breath, the volume of air we breathe increases, exchange of waste products improves, cellular respiration improves. Longer and slower breathing is therapeutic.
Digestion and elimination improve: the entire digestive system is massaged, stress releases, and dietary changes contribute to better digestion.
Organs and glands: yoga contributes to hormone regulation and regulates the adrenals. Yoga can lower blood sugar levels as well. Body weight may normalize. Yoga sometimes lowers the need for medications.
The nervous system: the entire practice shifts us from the stress response to the relaxation response. The mind quiets, concentration and alertness improve, mood becomes more positive – happier, better self-esteem, better sleep, more body awareness. Relationships may improve and addictions may have less power over us.
Immune function improves: as the body functions more optimally, we are better able to fight off disease and infection.