Yoga for Exercise : Isn’t Just For Youngers

In later life our immune systems begin to struggle and our bodies lose their efficiency, so maintaining the best possible health and fitness through a good diet and regular gentle exercise is essential at this stage of life.

Yoga for Exercise

Despite many people’s belief that yoga is a form of yoga for exercise reserved for super fit (and incredibly bendy) young folk, seniors practicing yoga can also enjoy the wide variation of benefits this ancient tool for healthy living has to offer as yoga helps them to maintain their health at the same time as significantly improving their general wellbeing.

There are many different yoga poses, or ‘asanas’ to choose from, starting with the most basic and progressing to the more advanced. Yoga poses combines these with breathing techniques and meditation in order to improve physical and emotional health, clear the body of toxins and leaves the individual feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. The key benefits yoga provides for your physical health:

• A boost to the immune system

• Better quality sleeping patterns

• Reduced blood pressure

• Effective pain relief

• Better balance, mobility and flexibility

The key benefits yoga provides your psychological and emotional wellbeing:

• New friendships and social opportunities

• A calm, stress free mind

• Boosted confidence

• Relief of depression and anxiety

• Memory and concentration is improved

Let’s take a closer look at the wonderful key benefits listed above.

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Why I Love Yoga?

I don’t talk about yoga that much…maybe because it’s a little too important to me. I don’t actually think I’d be able to do everything I do without it. And I’d certainly be a lot more miserable—physically, mentally, and spiritually. And that’s the thing about yoga—even if you don’t intend it to, it deeply impacts all three parts of your self. It’s like exercise for the threads that connect us to ourselves and to everything else.

Yoga

Yoga

A Spiritual Connection Can Protect You in a Crisis

I’m not one of those naturally flexible yoga bunnies who traipse down the street in yoga wear with a sticky mat strapped to my back. No, I do yoga at home. And I’ve been fortunate to have two amazing teachers in my life. I do it at home because I don’t want my yoga to be about comparing myself to anyone else—I need it to be about me, and I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to afford private teachers.

My first teacher gave me a very strong foundation. But as students often do, I outgrew her. She also taught me what not to do. For instance, I am convinced that I don’t need to become a Hindu in order to be a good yogini. And the definition of guru to me just means teacher—not some mystical holy being. We are all mystical and holy; it’s just that some people are more awake than others.

I was very fortunate many years ago, when we published Light on Life, Mr. Iyengar’s latest book, to get to meet him. He came to our New York offices, and everyone said, “Don’t touch him!” But he came right up to me and grabbed my hands. Then he took off his clothes (he was wearing his little blue yoga panties) and did a headstand. He was 87 at the time.  Now, I’m not the kind of person to do weird stuff in front of others (I’m basically shy), but when I was invited to do a headstand for Mr. Iyengar and have him spot me, well…I couldn’t resist! (It’s actually one of my favorite poses.) The picture I have of me in my Armani pants doing a headstand with Mr. Iyengar is one of my most valuable possessions (although I also know that possessions are meaningless, really—and, by the way, I no longer wear Armani).  Rumor has it he also drinks coffee, so I can really respect that man!

My current yoga teacher, Holly Walck from Jai Yoga is a little bit of a rebel, but she’s amazing. In fact, I will never trust a yoga teacher who doesn’t have a sense of humor. Holly does! There are many weeks when she shows up at my door and I am literally barely holding it together. And two hours later I am reborn. Because part of what is great about yoga—and what I love about it—is that it also acknowledges the importance of rest and reflection.  The fact that each class ends with Shivasana is essential.  Yoga reconnects me to my body, and in that reconnection, it balances my mind and restores my soul.

It’s not the “be all and end all” for me. Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave it all behind and go to India. Yoga is the beginning, not the end. As Mr. Iyengar said to me in a letter…”savor the nectar of yoga.” It is sweet and good and beautiful and filled with love.

A Hip-Opening Yoga

At one time or another, nearly all of my students have asked what they can do to loosen up their hips. Hip constriction is common as we get older, whether it’s from a lifetime of sports or too much time sitting at a desk. Opening up the hips increases circulation, mobility, and agility—and some of my students say it even improves their sex lives. So I always tell my students to try Yoga for Hips : Thread the Needle pose, either first thing in the morning or after a sweaty workout.

Yoga for Hips

Yoga for Hips

Begin on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees up. Place the outside of your right ankle onto your left thigh, just below your left knee. Make sure to flex this foot completely to engage all the muscles in your leg—and flexing your foot keeps your knee protected too. Keep your head on the floor and your shoulders relaxed. Begin to bring your left knee towards your chest (bringing your bent right leg along with it). Increase the stretch by reaching around with your left hand to grab the outside of your left leg while the right hand reaches through the hole to grab the inside of your left leg. Both hands hold the left knee while the right shin is parallel to the floor. Pull only as far as is comfortable, and feel the stretch in your right hip (not your knee). Hold for 15 breaths, release and repeat on your other side.

Yoga for the People: Fight Stress and Find Serenity

Understanding yoga

Yoga for the People

Yoga for the People

Yoga is considered a mind-body type of complementary and alternative medicine practice. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping you relax and manage stress and anxiety.

Yoga has many styles, forms and intensities. Hatha yoga for the people, in particular, may be a good choice for stress management. Hatha is one of the most common styles of yoga, and beginners may like its slower pace and easier movements. But most people can benefit from any style of yoga — it’s all about your personal preferences.

The core components of hatha yoga and most general yoga classes are:

Poses. Yoga poses, also called postures, are a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility. Poses range from lying on the floor while completely relaxed to difficult postures that may have you stretching your physical limits.

Breathing. Controlling your breathing is an important part of yoga. In yoga, breath signifies your vital energy. Yoga teaches that controlling your breathing can help you control your body and quiet your mind.

The health benefits of yoga

The potential health benefits of yoga include:

Stress reduction. A number of studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.

Improved fitness. Practicing yoga can lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. And this means you’re less likely to injure yourself in other physical endeavors or in your daily activities.

Management of chronic conditions. Yoga can help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga might also help alleviate chronic conditions, such as depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.