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When you conjure up an image of yoga, what do you see? Super bendy people, practicing a perfect tree pose on the top of a mountain or a pristine Indonesian beach? It’s easily done, as yoga has been given this moniker in recent times.
But actually, yoga is an ancient practice with many benefits for both the physical body and good mental wellbeing, regardless of where we practice it, including on a church hall floor or our front room. And it most definitely doesn’t have an age limit on who can practice it.
If you think that yoga is just for youthful, world travelling yogis – think again! Because here’s the powerful benefits of yoga for the over 60s…
Improving our flexibility helps us to move about more easily and can help to keep the joints well-oiled with more freedom of movement. As a happy act of serendipity, having better flexibility also means that joint pain can feel easier and more manageable, leaving us free to get on with making the moves we want to make.
Yoga practice involves performing long, slow poses that flow from one to the other, each one being held for a certain amount of time. Because of this, yoga builds resilience in the muscles, helping to improve their strength.
In turn, this means that our overall strength is increased. Stronger muscles lead to stronger bones and as a result, our posture is improved, improving with it, our stability and balance. This means fewer trips and falls, one of the leading causes of injury among older adults.
Yoga is low impact, yet effective at keeping the bones strong. Having a strong skeleton doesn’t just mean that we have a lower risk of falling, it means that if we do experience a fall, we have less chance of suffering broken bones.
To get the best from a yoga session, aim to practice it mindfully – that is, with your focus on your breathing and how your body feels understanding its response to each movement and pose. Try to avoid distractions too, so have your phone on silent and turn off the TV and radio if you’re practicing at home. If you’re practicing as part of a class, your instructor will take care of the peaceful ambience for you.
Practicing yoga mindfully, and in fact any kind of dedicated, mindful practice helps to refocus the mind and brings us into the present moment. Doing so helps to reduce worry and can even alleviate symptoms of anxiety and stress. It can also even help to improve our self-confidence and self-esteem and allow us to sleep better.
No matter how old we are, exercise has benefits to our physical and mental health. Not all of us want to join a gym, however, or pound the pavements, so low impact yoga could be the answer.
Why not look for a local class or download one of the many yoga apps available that guide you through classes at home.
Because who knows when we might need some extra flexibility? We’ll see you on the dancefloor!
Do you practice yoga?
Have you found it have a beneficial impact on your health and well being?
We’d love to hear about it.