Looking to take your yoga practice to the next level? The benefits of yoga and other chair exercises for seniors arrive in a multitude of ways – better flexibility, less stress, social interaction, weight management, disease prevention, the list goes on.

Short of hopping to the mat each day, however, there are a handful of fun and creative ways to upgrade your yoga routine for the better.

Use Aromatherapy

Did you know essential oils like lavender and sandalwood have been used for hundreds of years as aromatic therapy aids?

The olfactory sense (smell) connects to the brain in a powerful way, inducing everything from memory to relaxation, heightened attention and focus, as well as clarity and positivity. Just think about how warm and good the smell of Thanksgiving food makes you feel!

When it comes to yoga practice, aromatherapy can happen in a few ways. You (or your yoga teacher) may burn incense or a candle, or diffuse essential oils in an aroma diffuser.

There are also essential oil sprays which you can spritz your personal yoga mat with to enhance the effects of your practice.

Ask a Friend to Join

While yoga does get practiced in a space of calm and quiet, asking a friend to join adds that social component every senior should strive for.

Social interaction is effective at combating feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. Moreover, engaging with others in activity and conversation provides mental stimulation believed to help prevent cognitive decline in older adults.

Asking a friend to join you for yoga class might include grabbing a power smoothie or a quick bite afterwards, turning your healthy exercise habit into a weekly date.

Yoga practice can also bring up emotions and thoughts which may be worked through after class through a discussion with a good friend. Find yoga classes at a studio near you with online search tools like YogaFinder.com.

Seek Variety

Updating your yoga routine may be as simple as stepping out of your comfort zone to try new practices and styles. Many seniors might be under the misconception that chair yoga is the only viable option for them, but that could not be further from the truth!

Depending on your own physical condition and mobility limitations, you may have your hand at other types of yoga practice which offer just as much benefit and spice up your routine.

For instance, restorative yoga involves more passive muscle relaxation brought on by longer periods of time spent lying down on props or bolsters.

Bikram, or hot yoga, is practiced in a room with the temperature turned up over 100 degrees, helping stiff muscles and joints relax even more.

Lyengar yoga embraces more precision in form and alignment as well as a methodical approach to using props like blocks, straps and incline boards.

Listen to Music

No matter what activity you are taking part in, music always seems to have a profound effect on mental state and emotion. When it comes to yoga, relaxing, soft, gentle music can enhance your practice in more ways than you know.

Not only has music been shown to improve cognitive function and memory in older adults with Alzheimer’s, but it has a natural ability to soothe and positively affect mood as well.

The foundational principles of yoga – which include self-awareness, kindness and peace – can be amplified through audible sounds of nature, new age wind instruments and relaxing beats that ground your energy and lift your spirit.

Embrace Yoga Off the Mat

Want to make your time on the mat more meaningful? Open your eyes and attention to how yoga is influencing your life off the mat. What does this mean?

Yoga fosters a tangible and spiritual experience during practice. However, its influence can be seen in other areas of your life as well – from work to home and beyond – if you’re willing to see it.

Yoga’s influence may present itself as better stress control at work, a more open and rounded perspective on life, a keener sense of kindness and desire to give back to others, improved interactions in your close relationships, healthier eating, even practicing better posture.

Over time, picking up on the positive effects of yoga is sure to enhance your practice (and your desire to practice).

Do you practice yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi? What do you do to enhance your yoga practice? Have you taken the plunge into different styles or types of yoga? If so, which ones? Please share your experiences below!

Jessica HeggJessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living a healthy lifestyle. Through her writing, she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others. You can find her on Twitter @Jessica_Hegg.

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