What yoga can do for you?
Getting older is a natural part of life. Not only do we get older, but often we have older parents or elders to care for. We all want good health and a quality of life for ourselves, and for the elders in our care. However, the pressure of modern day life and work takes its toll on our health, especially 40s onwards (if not earlier!).
Look at any working group photo on social sites such as LinkedIn – Observe how many in any group seem to be physically fit!?? (What about if you were in the picture? Is there a tummy to hide?)
Most current work and lifestyle essentially involves long hours of sitting, a lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating habits. This can lead to issues such as muscular shortening, tightening and weakening; osteoporosis; joint deterioration; loss of flexibility; lack of balance, and so on. In addition, our sedentary lifestyle plays a large part in conditions such as type II diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, increased body fat, low back pain, breathing difficulties, vision problems, chronic pain, inability to sleep and so on. These issues are compounded and get more complex as one gets into the 50’s and 60’s. It can lead to associated risks such as falling, greater injury when one falls, slower recovery, medical complications and so on.
This is not what we want for the best years of our life or for the life of our loved ones! Yoga – especially designed for adults and older adults can help!
Yoga is especially suited to work with adults and older people, especially those who’ve not had an active exercise program as part of their lifestyle. It is a wellness journey that incorporates exercises (asanas) that are especially designed to work with the whole body, mind and spirit. The synergy that comes with integrating body, mind and spirit (using the breath) sets it apart from any other physical exercise program – especially because of its focus on the health of the spine! The many general and specific health benefits of practicing yoga are currently validated by contemporary scientific research.
Research points to a few of the benefits:
- Getting better quality of sleep, including reducing the time it takes to fall asleep
- Improvement in hand grip strength in those with arthritis
- Better control of type II diabetes and pulmonary function
- Decrease in blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides
- Helps offset middle-age weight gain
- Improved mood and reduced anxiety levels
- Aids those suffering with chronic pain
- Alleviates breathing difficulties for bronchial asthmatics
Before rushing off to the nearest glamorous yoga studio please understand that working with adults requires the yoga teacher to be sensitive to age-related physical changes. Adults commonly grapple with stiffness, back and neck pain, weak knees, weak spine, and often lower muscular strength. In addition medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, osteoporosis and so on need to be kept in mind. Therefore, the sequence of poses (asanas), intensity and pace of the class are slower with much emphasis on correct alignment and safety. In addition, individual needs and conditions needs are taken into account by modifying the asanas to easier versions and the use of props. The length of time an asana is held is reduced till the practitioner’s strength improves.
Often, many ‘yoga’ studios ignore these principles because of commercial reasons. So look for a yoga center that is sensitive to your age and needs! Check out the batch size, age profile of the students, and especially the teacher! Generic classes led by young teachers tend to become intense functional body workouts that are far from the ethos of yoga, and may not suit your needs. In essence, look for a center that caters to smaller batches and works with older adults, or hire a personal teacher who can customize a program for you. This is possibly the best investment you can make for yourself (or your loved ones) to close this year and start the new one!