About Our Bodies As We Age . . .
Our bones lose minerals after age 30. This demineralization makes bones susceptible to fractures and, in extreme cases, can cause osteoporosis and curvature of the spine (kyphosis). Bone and muscle deterioration results in restricted movement and lack of coordination. Strength diminishes. Falls become more likely and more potentially dangerous to other parts of the body.
Our spinal disks become more fallible. Years of pressure on these spongy disks that separate the vertebrae can cause them to slip, rupture or bulge causing them or the vertebrae themselves to press painfully on nerves,
Our muscles lose mass and tone, a condition called atrophy, which can impede all activities, including walking. Muscles hold our organs and our bones in place. Over time, muscles lose strength and flexibility. In the abdomen, hernias can arise as the intestines (always pulled by gravity) protrude through weak spots in the abdominal wall. Flaccid abdominal muscles also contribute to lower back pain and loss of balance.
Our heart is a muscle which, as it ages, becomes less efficient in pumping blood through the body. At the same time, a build up of fatty deposits forms in our blood vessels which have become less elastic with time. This combination can result in hypertension, heart attack and stroke.
Our joints wear as a result of repetitive use through the years resulting in a loss of flexibility. Joint lubricants can grow thin, causing the bones to grind against each other. The resulting pain may be exacerbated by osteoarthritis and other inflammatory disorders.
Our lungs experience deterioration of lung elasticity and capacity, which can reduce our ability to breathe deeply to oxygenate our blood and help relax the nervous system,
Our leg veins become prone to varicosity when the veins in the legs become enlarged and twisted when small valves that should snap shut between heartbeats (to keep blood moving up towards the heart) malfunction, causing blood to pool. Severe varicosities can lead to swelling and pain and on rare occasions, blood clots.
About a Regular Yoga Practice for Seniors . . .
A regular yoga practice can help you to stand tall as a result of stronger back and abdominal muscles. Scientific study supports many other benefits of yoga on the body and mind:
- Reduces low back pain
- Improves balance
- Straightens spinal kyphosis (the excessive hunching over that can happen as we age)
- Improves muscle strength and reverses muscle loss that happens with age
- Improves rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
- Improves menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, insomnia and mood swings
- Decreases anxiety and depression
- Improves control of Type 2 diabetes
- Increases flexibility
- Decreases chronic pain
- Improves sleep