Prevalence of age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s has some middle-aged adults fearing what the future holds for them in their “Golden Years”. The balance of doshas you are born with (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) is known as Prakruti (sanskrit for “the first creation”).
As you age, the delicate coexistence of the three doshas, essentially your living constitution, becomes damaged or impaired and Vikruti results – for mind-body health and wellness, your body yearns to return to Prakruti. The further you stray from it, the more likely illness will find you.
Adults over the age of 65 aren’t necessarily sentenced to a life that ends with a disability, chronic illness, or early mortality. Smart additions to the home environment can prevent debilitating falls and resulting immobility – think grab bars, railings, non slip shower mats, and ramps. Combined with an ongoing dedication to Ayurvedic practices that boost health and longevity outcomes, seniors are more able than ever to take control of their own wellness. Don’t miss these 5 key Ayurvedic practices:
Best Ayurvedic Practices for Seniors
Nightly rest is perhaps one of the most important periods of repair and restitution which the body has. A 2017 study in the journal of Neurology revealed that poor sleep quality, problems sleeping, and daytime drowsiness were all associated with Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Older adults often experience changes in sleep patterns, so it is important to practice healthy bedtime routines like:
- Avoiding blue light from digital devices prior to bed – blue light exposure has been linked to suppression of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone which helps cue the body when it is time to go to sleep.
- Not drinking caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
- Avoiding naps within a few hours of bedtime, and trying not to nap more than 30 minutes at a time.
- Use aromatherapy in a warm bath or aroma diffuser with scents which relax and calm you like lavender or sandalwood.
- Rising early and exercising during the day so your body feels tired and ready to rest come nightfall.
The practice of meditation fosters mindfulness, a much-embraced state of being present in the moment, and an enhanced feeling of connection to both the mind and the body. For seniors, mindfulness can help fortify the mind and body against depression, loneliness, and even illnesses like Alzheimer’s. A 2014 study found that elderly adults not only felt more motivated to stick with meditation programs, but that meditation has the ability to potentially offset cognitive decline associated with aging.
Massage which kneads into deep pressure points in the body’s muscles and fascia tissues can do wonders for relieving pain, boosting blood circulation, loosening stiff joints, and even improving range of motion. Massage can also be a powerful self-care tool, and in the Ayurvedic tradition, daily practice of Abhyanga can actually help restore balances to your doshas. Abhyanga involves rubbing warm oil over the entirety of your body, especially in circular motions around your abdomen to facilitate digestion, on joints, and over key nerve endings in the hands, feet, and scalp.
Deep Breathing Exercises
The source of your life force, also known as your Prana, is the practice of controlled breathing, or Pranayama. As you age, even your respiratory muscles can weaken, and many older adults find themselves short of breath due to common conditions like pneumonia, COPD, or congestive heart failure.
Deep breathing exercises can equip seniors with the tools they need to achieve not just greater oxygen uptake, but stress relief, and a clearing of toxins and carbon dioxide from the lungs as well. Your stamina and endurance are directly related to how much oxygen you can take in to feed your muscles. With deep breathing practice, you improve your lung capacity and therefore your ability to exercise and stay physically active.
Appreciate Your Food
Much of the Ayurvedic discipline is a self-realization of your connection to the world, including the food you eat. As you age and work hard to stave off disease and illness, few things are as important as the food you put in your body, and that is why Ayurvedic tradition believes that your optimum health stems from your digestive system. For balancing your digestive fires it is recommended to drink hot water or ginger tea with each meal, avoid grazing in between meals, don’t eat just because you feel stressed or emotional, and try to eat in silence when you can truly connect to the food going inside you.
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