Meditation, yoga or pranayama is not something new, at least for us Indians. Since ancient times, our ancestors have been practicing these wellness techniques. But as it happens with most things ancient, as people and ages evolve, few things slowly start fading out. People tend to overlook their benefits and importance and fail to understand why it came about in the first place. And then slowly the circle of life comes into effect and one by one, we bring back the forgotten things.
Meditation and yoga are two such things that have again become a fad in our society again. At least where these things are concerned, Swamy Ramdevji seems to have played an important role in popularizing them again. Not just in our country, but abroad as well. His Yoga Shivirs became immensely popular as along with teaching each Aasan, he also exhorted on their benefits and people could see and feel the difference for themselves. And then we also had our Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, who brought about the International Yoga day. So, what exactly are the benefits of meditation and pranayama for seniors? Is it really beneficial or is it all just a fad? Here is what we found.
There really is no one definition of meditation as this can mean different things to different people. For a few, meditation means just being by themselves, away from the crowd, and contemplating on the various aspects of life. For a few others, meditation can be just a prayer, a way to lift their souls through a spiritual journey. For many, it could just be travelling to naturally scenic places and taking in the beauty of nature.
As a result, there are many forms of meditation. However, in the most basic form, meditation just means to cut oneself away from the ordinary and concentrating on self, our inner souls etc. We may chant some mantras for this or listen to some music etc. to get into that deep trance mode. It is an integral part of yoga practice as well.
Meditation benefits people of all ages in many ways like helping with improved concentration, bringing in a clarity of thoughts aiding in better decision making, overall improved health due to a calmer mind etc. Especially for seniors, meditation can actually help alleviate the feeling of loneliness and depression. This may be true, especially, for such people who live alone. It can help them to stay positive and keep the negative emotions away.
Studies have also shown that meditation can help keep diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay as well. Meditation also helps improve blood circulation and improves digestion. Common diseases like asthma, arthritis, heart issues etc., are also kept under control with the help of meditation.
Pranayama is nothing simple breathing exercises that are practiced as part of yoga. ‘Prana’ stands for breath and ‘ayama’ means to control, so together the Sanskrit word pranayama stands for learning to control the breath for bringing in wellness benefits to our body. Our life is dependent on the breath we take and a lot of things can be managed by controlling it.
If you have any specific medical issues, please check with your doctor once, before you start any exercises, including even the pranayama. For normal, healthy people, there really are no restrictions to do pranayama and in fact, many yoga practitioners say that it actually helps one to live long and healthy. If one is starting it for the first time, perhaps it is best to do so under the guidance of a certified practitioner. The exercises can range from simple inhaling and exhaling, deep breathing, called as anulom, vinulom, kapalbaathi, brahmari etc. can be practiced without any issues.
In general, people practicing pranayama are said to benefit through improved blood circulation, mind and body relaxation, improved concentration, stress relief as well as relief from many diseases like asthma, headache, migraine, gastric issues etc. All these benefits can prove even more beneficial for the elderly people as it brings about a general wellness that improves the overall quality of life.