Yoga for Seniors: Mechanisms of Response to Yoga Therapy in Older Adults

Yoga for Seniors: Mechanisms of Response to Yoga Therapy in Older Adults

Pattharee Paholpak (The University of California, Los Angeles, USA & Khon Kaen University, Thailand), Laura Obler (The University of California – Los Angeles, USA) and Helen Lavretsky (The University of California– Los Angeles, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2788-6.ch009
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Abstract

Increasing life expectancies have resulted in global aging of the population. Because of physiological changes associated with aging, older adults are more vulnerable to developing chronic diseases and disability. Multimorbidity with two or more aging and stress-related conditions occurs in more than half of older adults. The use of polypharmacy for multiple disorders increases risks of adverse reactions. Mind-body medicine uses ancient Eastern practices like yoga and meditation to achieve balance between mind, body and spirit. The US National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) showed the growing popularity of yoga practice in people aged 65 and over. The use of mind-body therapies like yoga could supplement conventional medicine in management of mild-moderate mental and physical symptoms. Yoga therapy empowers individuals to take responsibility for own health and is ideal for preventing chronic stress-related disorders of aging because of low-cost and improved safety profile.
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The Role Of Mind-Body Medicine

The worldwide use of complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) including mind-body approaches is rising. Mind-body medicine uses ancient Eastern practices like yoga, Qi-gong, Tai Chi, and meditation to achieve balance between mind, body and spirit. The US National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) reported the linear growth of mind-body interventions such as yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong among people aged 18 and over. The data from 2002, 2007 and 2012 found yoga as the most popular approach, accounting for 80% of these three methods. The same survey also showed the growing popularity of yoga practice in people aged 65 and over, with the prevalence constantly increasing from 1.3% to 2.2% and 3.3%, respectively (Tainya, Lindsey, Barbara, Patricia, & Richard, 2015).

Although CIM was initially recognized in promoting health and well-being, growing scientific evidence supports clinical use and efficacy of some interventions with increased understanding of the underlying neurobiological mechanisms (Barnes, Powell-Griner, McFann, & Nahin, 2004). CIM use can satisfying met medical needs by relieving symptoms associated with chronic diseases and chronic pain condition, and by reducing side effects of conventional drugs (Eyre, Baune, & Lavretsky, 2015). CIM could supplement conventional medicine in management of mild-moderate mental and physical symptoms (e.g., pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc.) (Lavretsky, 2009; McCaffrey, Pugh, & O'Connor, 2007; Meeks, Wetherell, Irwin, Redwine, & Jeste, 2007; Russinova, Cash, & Wewiorski, 2009; Su & Li, 2011). It is ideal for preventing chronic stress-related disorders of aging because of low-cost and improved safety profile.

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