Yoga originated in ancient India with the focus on breathing and spirituality. In more recent years, it has transformed into a popular workout that combines deep stretching and strengthening while building mental focus. Even if you can’t master the headstand or turn yourself into a pretzel, yoga can be tailored to all abilities and can improve your health in a number of ways. NEBH Athletic Trainer Annie Chen, MS, LAT, ATC offers a few ways on how Yoga can improve your health:
Increases Flexibility – Muscle weakness and joint flexibility are two common causes of sports injuries and falls in seniors. Yoga allows you to strengthen the muscles around your joints and increase their range of motion, which can help prevent injuries and falls.
Builds muscle strength – Keeping your muscles strong and flexible can help you relieve back pain, restore range of motion and help reduce muscle soreness. Yoga provides a relaxing way to tone muscles and build strength while using your own body weight
Improves balance – Balance is an important part of everyday life as it can help with the ability to walk run, or simply stand. Practicing Yoga can also prevent falls, which are the leading cause of injury to seniors in the United States. Yoga is all about balance and through the focus that yoga teaches you, you can improve. During a yoga class, you will be brought through many poses which force you to remain in a calm and steady balanced position.
Benefits mentally and emotionally – Life can be fast paced and cause stress to the body physically and mentally. Yoga can help relax the mind to decrease anxiety and depression, and increase calmness and clarity in our minds.
There are many different ways to practice yoga, from active and physically challenging practices such as power yoga or Bikram Yoga, to a more relaxed and joint friendly chair yoga. Power and Bikram yoga classes will force you to build muscle strength and balance through push-ups, handstands, toe touches, squats and side bends. On the other hand, chair yoga is a way to relax your whole body, without even getting out of your chair. It is easy to do on your own, in the office or at home.
Whether you are ready to become a life-long yogi or just seeking out a class or two to soothe your muscles, yoga has classes for all abilities and goals. Almost all studios offer beginner classes for all ages with the focus on slow motion and teaching. Yoga classes are offered in many different locations and for a variety of skill levels, and can even be done in the comfort of your home. There are many apps that can be downloaded onto a cellular device or tablet to take with you if you can’t get to an actual class.
Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.