An article in the Wall Street Journal last week reported on some very interesting research about tripping and falling amongst the elderly.
Falls are the number one reason for death and injury among people age 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers looking into why people fall and what mechanisms might be triggered in the brain found that:
Tripping caused just 1 out of 5 of the incidents.
The biggest reason for falling—accounting for 41% of the total—was due to incorrect weight shifting, like leaning over too far, says Stephen Robinovitch, a professor in the biomedical physiology and kinesiology…
As a yoga practitioner, teacher, and advocate for body awareness disciplines, I interpret these findings as a call to action. In addition to stirring compassion, this article got me thinking (yet again) about how healthy the yoga practice is. Practicing Yoga (and/or other body awareness techniques) reveals our mis-alignments and draws attention deeply into our body and its workings.
If you’re reading this blogpost, chances are that you have one, if not many, stories to tell about discovering and improving your alignment and the way you carry yourself. Whenever you start practicing yoga, you gradually become armed with awareness that will help you find your center and be more balanced. As one cruises into the later decades of life, long time habits and gravity take hold, which means it’s ever the more essential to practice good posture and improve the mobility of each joint.
Good yoga asana practice tunes us in to our bodies such that we can sit, stand, and walk with greater ease. We discover our true center and align ourselves more closely to it. Our limbs become more mobile as we lengthen muscles and practice healthy joint movement. Our nervous system experiences a state of calm such that we can develop greater awareness of our bodies and know what it means to deeply relax. (Thank you, Yoga!)
So when researchers tell us that the older people are experiencing injurious and even perilous falls basically because of poor posture, I say let’s practice yoga, let’s create yoga classes accessible for everyday folks, and let’s support each other in these quests.