Yoga isn’t just body origami.

After time, activity takes its toll on the body. No one knows this better than an older adult who struggles to remain fit, but who also doesn’t want to further their decline with more pain or injury. Yoga, as a method of intentional movement, stretching and breath is a great way to gently include exercise into your day.

Yoga is an ancient Hindu discipline used to teach an individual inner peace through controlling the mind and body via a series of breathing techniques paired with physical poses and stretches. Yoga has gained popularity in the past 20 years for a variety of reasons; some for mental relaxation and some for physical well-being. As yoga has become a mainstream way to approach a healthy lifestyle, there are more than enough different versions of yoga being practiced to accommodate anyone.

The benefits of yoga include;

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased muscle strength and tone
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • Maintaining a balanced metabolism
  • Weight reduction
  • Cardio and circulatory health
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Protection from injury
  • Mental well-being
  • Improved circulation

The best way to begin a yoga practice is to take note of your basic physical limitations. Because yoga incorporates poses for different parts of the body, you need to know which parts to avoid or handle more gently. For instance, if you have a bad knee, you will want to avoid poses and stretches the target or challenge the muscles in the knee. Take this consideration in mind for all physical limitations you currently have or just recently experienced.

You also need to consider how much effort you want or can put into the posture; the duration of holding the posture and amount of flexibility required. Some cardio movements and abdominals might be more appropriate for a person with a higher level of endurance and experience. Don’t push yourself too hard. Take all movements as gently as possible and slowly work up to higher level effort.

The relaxation effects of yoga can help lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and other joint concerns. It can also help with insomnia and lower blood pressure. It’s almost custom made for the needs of older adults.

There are many ways to learn or access yoga — books, digital tutorials and dvds. But the best way to start is to sign up for a beginner class, preferably one suited to older adults. Classes are offered at yoga studios, health clubs, senior centers, local recreation centers and just about everywhere these days.

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