Yoga Keeps You Young!
Many Baby Boomers are now caught in an unavoidable dilemma. Despite their drive to maintain fitness, the effects of aging are being recognized. In addition, this same population have found that years of “no pain, no gain” has put them in positions of chronic ailments and overuse injuries that now effect the types of workouts available to them. Yoga is one way to maintain a healthy weight, stay toned, strong, and flexible. So, what is yoga? Yoga is not a religion, but instead a physical and psychological discipline that originated in India approximately 5000-6000 years ago. It renews, invigorates and heals the body by stretching and strengthening the muscles, joints and spine while directing blood and oxygen to the internal organs.
We now know that many of the classic symptoms of aging are caused by inactivity (i.e. mechanical, imbalanced forms of exercise that strain the body), poor nutrition, and accumulated stress and tension.
The effects of aging include:
- · Decrease in muscle mass
- · Decrease in heart efficiency
- · Decrease in flexibility
- · Decrease in cardiovascular health
- · Decrease in bone mass/density
- · Increase in blood pressure
- · Increase in weight gain
- · Problems with balance
Some of the benefits of yoga include:
- · Increase of muscle mass
- · Increase in systolic stroke volume
- · Increase in flexibility
- · Decrease in cholesterol levels
- · Decrease in resting heart rate
- · Increase in bone mass/density
- · Normalization of blood pressure
- · Increase in core strength
The use of props allows individuals with tightness, balance problems, stiffness or other special needs to practice with security, confidence and safety. Props such as blankets, straps, blocks, or even the wall will assist one in finding the proper pose with correct alignment to receive the benefits of the asana. By providing more height, weight or support; props help you to extend beyond your perceived limitations and teach you that your body is capable of doing much more than you think it can.
Breathing is typically done through nose only. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is the key to a successful practice. The breath is a tool to stay calm and relax the body and clear the mind. This union of mind, body and breath is the magic of yoga that also helps to reduce stress and promote feelings of inner peace.
“To understand what yoga is all about, you need to experience it for yourself. A t first glance it seems to be little more than a series of strange physical postures which keep the body lean and flexible. But in time, anyone who continues with regular practice becomes aware of a subtle change in their approach to life- for, through persistently toning and relaxing the body and stilling the mind, you begin to glimpse a state of inner peace which is your true nature.” The Sivananda Companion to Yoga
Maryann Szalka, 200 RYT