The Mindful Senior: Yoga, Meditation, and Safe Exercise for the Golden Years

Mindfulness means different things to different people, but at its core, mindfulness is about being present in the moment — physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Mindfulness is being able to focus on the now, as opposed to the distractions of the current, past, and present. When you do things to boost your ability to be mindful, you can improve your overall well-being. For those approaching or well into their golden years, very few things are as important as learning how to increase mindfulness. Yoga, meditation, and safe exercise can help.

Anyone Can Be a Yogi

Yoga should be considered the everyman’s workout, as it can be done by anyone of any age. It’s good for super fit people and those with some fitness to be desired. Getting into yoga as a senior is a very smart thing to do, as yoga is proven to increase flexibility and help prevent joint and bone deterioration. Not only that, but yoga helps your cardiovascular system and helps boost mood and overall mental well-being. Yoga also just makes you feel good.

Getting started can seem daunting — but it’s not. First, take a second to familiarize yourself with some of the most common poses and start working through beginning sequences. You may want to look into a free online program for beginners (such as this one that is 28 days long). You also have the option of hiring a personal yoga instructor if you’re feeling lost and/or attending local group yoga classes if you need the extra motivation.

Do you need some tips for your first yoga session? Don’t fall into yoga clothing trends. Wear what’s comfortable for you (usually this means loose, light, and breathable). Eat what makes your body feel good, but it’s wise to keep it light before and after yoga sessions.

Exercise Easily (and Safely) at Home

While yoga and meditation are important, you shouldn’t neglect to add more physical activity to your daily routine. Exercising on a regular basis will help you age more gracefully. However, it’s counterproductive if your exercise regimen is either too complicated or too risky. Being able to exercise at home is key. Technology can help, especially in the form of exercise video routines (think YouTube) and workout games on devices like the Nintendo Wii (think Wii Fit). These are fun, easy, and safe ways to get the exercise you need at home.

If you have room in your home, setting aside some space for a yoga studio will inspire you to stick to your routine. However, for many people, space can be a problem, which is why you might need to improvise. For example, if you have a dining room that doesn’t get much use, consider rearranging (or removing) some furniture to make room for your routine. You don’t need to do much; as long as you have room to move, you’re good to go.

Meditate to Feel Great

The next step in your mindfulness journey is meditation. Yoga and meditation share some similarities — mainly the total focus on being present in the now and the overall benefits to mind, body, and soul. When you meditate, you change the activity in your brain. Certain regions light up, while others calm down. Beneficial neural pathways are triggered. notes that meditation’s many mental benefits include “greater creativity, decreased anxiety and depression, improved learning and memory, and increased happiness and emotional stability.”

Meditation also comes with physiological benefits. Slowing your breathing (a technique in many meditations) helps your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Also, remember that the mind and body are intricately connected. The healthier one is, the healthier the other will be.

Meditation can be freeform or guided. Some meditation uses guided imagery, while other types use sound and repeated mantras to induce a sense of relaxation. You can start here.

Your golden years can be some of the best years of your life if you take the time to prioritize your health and overall well-being. Mindfulness, aided by yoga, meditation, and safe, fun exercise will allow you to age happily and gracefully.