HYDERABAD: Falling down due to loss of balance is commonplace in today’s world, especially among the elderly. In fact, falls are a major public health concern that often leads to serious injuries or even prove fatal.
However, yoga offers easy and effective strategies to prevent falls among the elderly. Yoga fits all body types —whether young or old — as it is a lot less strenuous than most other fitness exercises. Yoga poses are also easily modifiable. In other words, it offers the elderly a holistic approach to staying healthy.
Take, for instance, the uttan padasana, wherein one raises their legs while in the supine position. It helps strengthen the abdominal organs, back, hip and thigh muscles. It also helps in relieving back pain.
While the tadasana (mountain posture) helps in reducing flat feet, besides strengthening the legs, knees, ankles, buttocks, lower abdomen, shoulders and neck, the bhujangasana (snake posture) helps in increasing spinal flexibility and strength.
When one does sarvangasana (shoulder posture), it strengthens the upper body, legs and abdominal muscles. The ustrasana (camel posture), meanwhile, helps in strengthening the chest, abdomen, and quadriceps, in addition to improving spinal flexibility, shoulder and back muscles.
Further, there’s the naukasana (boat pose) and the dwikonasan (double angle posture). These poses help with the lower back muscles and the shoulder blades.
Promotes healthy ageing, says study
In collaboration with the George Institute, Sydney, University of Sydney, University of Hyderabad and Osmania Medical College, a study was conducted to demonstrate the effects of yoga sessions in preventing falls by improving balance and mobility in the elderly.
Conducted over a span of three months, the research involved 50 people aged between 60 to 81 years.
The participants were provided one-hour yoga classes every week for three months by an expert yoga teacher.
The programme had a fall-prevention focus and emphasised on standing poses that challenged balance, followed by breathing exercises and meditation.
Each yoga class included 5 to 10 minutes of warm-up, 50 minutes of the main sequence of postures, 5 minutes of breathing exercises, and another 5 minutes of meditation.
Through discussions with the participants, the study found that yoga provided a wide range of benefits, in addition to balance and mobility — a concept that can be called, “yoga for healthy ageing”.
This yoga-based intervention among the elderly participants of the study resulted in improved ability of them to rise from a chair, increased step length, reduced the fear of falling and resulted in weight loss.
This, in turn, contributed towards improved balance and mobility among them.