Yoga is a way of life for some and a way to stretch it just a bit further for others, says Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living CEO.
Kelley D. Hamilton of Bonaventure Senior Living says the senior population is increasing rapidly because they are a generation unafraid to pay attention to their health. According to Kelley D. Hamilton, many Bonaventure residents regularly participate in yoga sessions, which is good for the mind and body. Here, the CEO of these retirement and assisted living communities offers insight on how this ancient art has made an impact on the modern world.
Interviews and News: Why has yoga become so popular?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Yoga has always been a great form of exercise, but recently has really taken off in the senior communities because of its many health benefits, including chronic pain relief, mood enhancement, improved lung function, relief of hypertension and leveling glucose in people with diabetes.
Interviews and News: Is it difficult to teach yoga to the 50 and up crowd?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Not at all. Older adults are taking to yoga more and more all the time since it’s accessible for people of varying ability. But, there are some useful guidelines for seniors who want to practice yoga.
Interviews and News: Such as?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Instructors need to be aware of any specific health concerns or physical limitations for class members, which allows the session to be custom tailored to the abilities of the participants.
Interviews and News: That sounds like it would be difficult to ascertain?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: In a large class it can be tricky, but often times a good yoga instructor will meet with new members of the group and get to know their particular needs. Smaller class sizes tend to be better for seniors who may need additional assistance.
Interviews and News: Do seniors tend to understand the Sanskrit words used during a yoga session?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Those who teach yoga to seniors are encouraged to use the more common names for each position, but it varies from class to class and what people are comfortable with.
Interviews and News: Should seniors with balance problems participate?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Actually, yoga can help with equilibrium and is a great way to help improve balance issues. Participants are trained to focus their attention on a specific area, which helps with stability.
Interviews and News: It sounds like yoga can be modified for older adults. Is it still effective?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: It is, absolutely. Senior citizens who regularly take part report fewer complications from arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and anxiety.
Interviews and News: And how does it affect diabetes?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: In a study conducted by scientists in New Delhi, a group of individuals were instructed to follow a yoga regimen for 40 minutes per day. At the end of the challenge, the people with type 2 diabetes who did yoga had lower fasting blood sugar levels.
Interviews and News: Yoga isn’t really for weight loss, is it?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: By itself, not really. It can definitely be part of a healthy diet and exercise regimen, but in most cases with seniors the focus is on maintenance rather than weight loss.
Interviews and News: What effect does yoga have on mood?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: A study by UCLA Medical Center found that yoga raises endorphins. The study asked participants to rate their moods after a yoga session. All of those asked indicated they felt better mentally after a good workout. Exercise in general has this effect on people, but yoga specifically tends to relax the mind as well as invigorate the body.
Interviews and News: Very interesting.
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: That same study also uncovered a more surprising side effect of this low-impact activity. They found that yoga helps reduce chronic pain.
Interviews and News: Even in those who take pain medications regularly?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Yes, that’s the exciting part. All of the patients surveyed reported less reliance on pain medication after just four weeks on the mat.
Interviews and News: Incredible. And yoga also helps improve breathing, right?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Asthma sufferers have found that the simple chair breathing posture can relieve acute breathing difficulties.
Interviews and News: And yoga has been shown to lower blood pressure?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Yes, another study performed in India found that three months into a regular yoga regimen, blood pressure, cholesterol and anxiety were all significantly improved.
Interviews and News: That’s all very impressive. Is it expensive to get into yoga?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: It varies greatly based on instructor, location, and frequency. Many insurance companies now offer a discount on yoga classes. And, many senior centers and local YMCAs offer classes for seniors. Many Bonaventure communities also bring in yoga instructors and offer regular free sessions to residents and guests.
Interviews and News: This has been quite an interesting discussion. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Just the standard recommendation that you should always discuss any new exercise programs with your doctor before jumping right in. While yoga is a safe and healthy way to improve your health, it’s good to get professional advice based on your individual needs.
Interviews and News: Very good. Again, thank you for joining us here today.
Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: It was my pleasure, thank you.