By Miriam Adler
Did you know that yoga is for everyone, at any age? Yoga’s mind/body discipline offers a uniquely holistic approach to your health. Yoga’s stretching and strengthening exercises and its breathing and relaxation techniques can vastly improve the quality of your life and health. No matter how stiff you are, you can increase your flexibility at any stage. If you are 65 and a beginner, great! If you are young and fit but cannot reach your toes because your muscles are too tight, yoga is for you.
For seniors, the accepted view of the aging process has been one of stiffening, rigidity, and closing down. Yoga moves each joint in the body through its full range of motion, creating expansion and elasticity, better balance, and relief from chronic pain that can settle in different parts of the body. Your knees, hips, shoulders, and spine will thank you for all the benefits. Yoga tones and firms, and women of all ages can benefit. Teenagers to young adults become aware of body posture, alignment, and patterns of movement, and young mothers can get relief from back and neck issues that develop from pregnancy and carrying babies.
Perhaps even more profound than yoga’s physical effects are the mental and psychological benefits. You might notice a change in outlook, your moods elevated, peace of mind. Yoga is a meditation in motion. During the practice of yoga, we free our minds of thoughts, develop inner awareness, and focus on our breathing and body sensation. Without even realizing it, our mind and body become tranquil. Yoga can ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. By transferring focus and attention to the body and breath, yoga can help temper anxiety while also releasing physical tension. It helps train your body to relax during stressful situations.
Yoga practice can be easily transferred to the chair, for those who are immobile and who cannot get on the floor. The chair replaces the mat, and the exercises can even be done in a wheelchair. One can receive the many benefits of yoga, through modification of yoga poses and through blocks and props. The addition of slow, soothing music adds to the therapeutic benefits of yoga.
Finally, yoga helps us slow down from the business of our lives, becoming more mindful of the present moment and thus making healthy choices for both mind and body. v
Miriam Adler is a Registered Yoga Teacher and has been in practice for over 30 years. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 516-902-3802. She is organizing small group classes from beginner to intermediate. She offers private and semi-private classes.