The importance of balance practices in chair based yoga.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the United kingdom reports that life expectancy in the UK is still increasing. People are living longer. Although this is a good thing, with the majority of people over 65 years of age leading healthy and active lives, the amount of older adults that will spend their time in poor health has also increased in the last few years.
Aging and balance
Staying independent and active is very important to the health outcomes of people over 65. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, which are common amongst the elderly, can be addresses through physical activity.
Old-age though also comes with muscle and bone loss, decline in the ability to balance, memory loss (at the least), degradation of postural alignment and a rapid decline in muscle strength and endurance, all of which play a role in remaining independent and active.
Balance and falls
Preventing falls is important in staying independent and active in older adults. Falling and related bone fractures is the most common reason why people over 65 will end up in hospital reports the ONS; many of those admitted will not regain their previous full activity levels because of their fall.
The ability to balance plays a major role in preventing falls. Poor balance can affect daily tasks such as standing, reaching up, getting out of bed and much more, resulting in a fall.
Maintaining good balance
The ability to balance is therefore important in order to reduce the likelihood of falling and maintain functional movement. The nature of it is such that as we age it is “lost”. The ability to know where your body is in a 3-dimensional space is lost over time.
The saying “use it or lose it” goes for balance too and if we consider the individual elements of balance, it is no wonder that it is lost over time. Balance relies on good hearing, good sight, proprioception and a good dose of feeling under our feet. As we age we slowly lose all of the above, unless we practice.
Yoga can in fact address all of the elements of good balance through its practices. It improves physical awareness that leads to better awareness of how your body responds to everyday activities and reduces the risk of falls. This awareness filters through to postural alignment, which in turn also makes breathing, standing and walking a lot easier.
Chair Based Yoga for better balance
Chair Based Yoga is the practice of yoga sitting on or standing by a chair. This adaptation allows those with lower mobility to access yoga more readily.
The benefits of yoga are well known to most these days and access to the practices of yoga through the use of a chair allows for the elderly to practice also. This means that the benefits of increased mobility, flexibility, strength and balance that yoga readily offers through its practices, can also be accessed by those unable to get on the floor or stand up for too long.
Due to yoga’s gentle nature the practices are less daunting and more appealing to many.
Coming back to the importance of balance practices in chair based yoga, it is highlighted above that in order to maintain independence and improve overall health outcomes, as we age we must remain active.
Yoga is a gentle practice that allows us to maintain strength, flexibility and bodily awareness all of which play a role in maintaining balance and reducing chances of falling.
With other age-related health conditions chair based yoga becomes the gateway for the elderly and those with lower mobility to practice yoga and work on all those elements that allow us to maintaining good health and of course good balance.