YOGA AND AGEING
Ageing is natural process. After the age of forty the aging process is characterized by declining physical performance which impairs all facets of well being. However although old age is inevitable, it could be made bearable.
Old age is characterized by the following conditions
- Decrease in strength and power of resistance.
- Possibilities of suffering serious injuries and infirmities which take longer to recover from than during young age.
- Inadequate working of muscular system puts strain on supporting tissues of body as well as tendons, ligaments and joints.
- Diseases of the circular system and heart are more likely, due to lack of exercise, over eating, stress and abuse of stimulants and medicines.
- common complaints of Rheumatism, Insomnia, Constipation, Coughing, Difficulty in respiration, Bronchitis, Prostate enlargement, High blood pressure, Diabetes, Paralysis etc.
- Mental depression, Loneliness, Anxiety, Suspicion, Self centeredness ---due to wear and tear of brain tissues.
- Sluggish metabolism associated with gain in weight, accumulation of fat, loss of lean tissue ,demineralization of bone and decrease in aerobic power.
Exercise is important
The decline in bodily function that comes with the aging process may be delayed through appropriate physical training or exercise. The important key to physical fitness lies in keeping the blood flowing through the muscles and organs in adequate amounts through selected exercise. Physiological aging comes upon man with greater rapidity if he is sedentary. Exercise prepares nervous system for action. Strength is the vital as it is required to move the body. Exercise contributes to its development.
Circulatory-Respiratory fitness requires primary adjustment of the circulatory respiratory complex of the body to activity which is possible only by systemic exercise. The heart is not a suction pump and can not suck the blood up from feet and legs to the heart when the body is upright. Use of legs in exercise significantly expands the efficient return of the flow of blood to the heart.
Guidelines for exercises during old age
- The nature of exercise should be such as not to bring undue pressure on the muscles and the heart.
- Vigorous and jerky exercise should be avoided. Exercise that contributes to the development of strength of muscles which support the tissues forming various important organs should be selected. The danger of accidents can thus be reduced.
- Exercise requiring holding of breath should be avoided.
- The exercise should provide contentment and satisfaction and gives self confidence.
- Abrupt stretching of muscles, excessive twisting and holding of breath when working out with strength should be avoided.
- Breathing out consciously is more important than during special exercise for deep berating.
- Daily exercise is better than intermittent practice.
Contribution of YOGIC Exercise in old age
Yogic exercise aim at maintaining and improving the various motor skills and preserve physical, mental and social well being.
- Asanas, the stretching exercise in Yoga are non-strenuous, non-fatiguing and can be performed comfortably during the old age. The shortened muscles are stretched gradually and pain in joints is reduced which is a general complain of old age.
- By Sputa Vajrasana Quadriceps muscles are stretched and optimum length of the muscle is maintained, those reducing the pain in knees.
- Asanas build up proper tone in the muscles and the vital organs function well as a result of improved tone , hence preventing prolapsed or organs .
- The prolapse of the Vertebral Discs can be controlled by relaxation of back muscles.
- At least four Asanas should be practiced that give four movements of the spine, namely, Forward bending, Backward bending, side way bending and Lateral twist.
- Controlled breathing in pranayama helps in adjusting the circulation-respiratory complex of the body.
- Purification process of Yoga is called as Kriyas . These are helpful in removing the imbalance in the various secretions of the body by controlling various reflexes.
- The practice of Meditation in any form reduces the feeling of loneliness and gives peace of mind.
Emotional disturbances are reduced to minimum .Meditation helps to increase blood flow and send energy to particular body part.
Some precautions to be taken during old age
- The diet, sleep, rest and recreation should be regulated.
- Movement of joints is necessary for not allowing them to store calcium.
- Avoid sleeping during day time (DIWASAPAM) and do not take sleeping pills at night.
- Emphasize on proper relaxation and practice and controlled respiration.
- Pay special attention to bowel movements. Include leafy vegetables, raw vegetables and fruits to provide fibers in diet.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol .They are injurious to health.
- Pay more attention to spiritual activities and keep yourself busy in some favorite activity.
Thus old age can be made not only bearable but pleasurable. After all old age is not a matter of years, but a condition of mind. And Yoga brings a healthy state of mind .
Dr. Smitha, B.A.M.S