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As your body ages, your ability to engage in strenuous activity declines. You might not be as strong and fit as you used to be, and you might be more prone to injuries and experience slower healing processes. But there are ways to navigate around these changes, particularly through other forms of physical activity. There’s no better time than now to try yoga, so pull out your mat and put your foot forward into warrior pose.
Unlike high intensity exercises and cardio moves that can cause injury or be difficult to attempt, yoga is accessible for anyone. The workouts are low intensity and low impact, with little pressure being put on the joints. While running can cause problems for your knees and ankles, yoga can help strengthen those areas. While cardio might leave you out of breath, yoga can help improve your breathing.And while some exercises might make you want to collapse from exhaustion, yoga will teach how to stay balanced and will energize you. You’ll also notice physical improvements in your flexibility, joint strength, and mobility. You’ll breathe better and sleep better at night.
Mental Health Benefits
Yoga also has a slew of benefits for your mental health, especially if you combine it with meditation. Both practices can improve your confidence and mood, reduce stress, calm and center you, and increase your focus and concentration. The brain boosting benefits of meditative yoga make it worth trying in your golden years — a time during which you might notice some mental slips. With yoga and meditation, you can sharpen your mind while calming your soul. If you practice yoga with a group, you’ll experience the social benefits of community as well.
Flow Into Action
Simply thinking about doing yoga is a wonderful step in the right direction, but the real work happens when you spring — or flow — into action. There’s no right way to do yoga. As long as you’re enjoying the practice and focusing on your form, you’ll feel the benefits. If you keep at it regularly, you’ll notice improvements in your poses, forms, holds, and breathing techniques. You might also see positive changes in your weight and appearance, as well as a youthful glow from your newfound health.
How, Where, and When
How you choose to practice is up to you. You can practice at home with your own flow, at home with a video, or in class with a group. Some beginners will start with a video at home to get accustomed to the poses and then graduate to a class when they feel comfortable practicing in front of others. When they’ve begun to master the poses, they might practice more at home because of the convenience of doing it daily in privacy. However, there’s no substitution for the community and support of a class.
To stay committed to your yoga practice, get motivated by treating it like a serious part of your life. That could mean scheduling a time each day for a session, investing in the right yoga mat (some are as cheap as $15!), signing up for a monthly membership at a yoga studio, or carving out space in your home to practice every day. Since yoga is best practiced in a peaceful environment, having a dedicated space is important to your practice. If space is at a minimum, you may need to move some of your belongings into storage. In the past six months, a storage unit in Santa Rosa, California, has cost an average of $100, but it’s a fair price to pay to remove the clutter inside your home and boost your health.
Becoming a yoga practitioner might feel like a lot at first, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Start with a mat and some simple poses. Do these poses every day until your beginner moves become advanced moves. As with any new lifestyle, you’ll experience a learning curve until it becomes habitual. With regular yoga practice, it’ll eventually feel like second nature. Now take a deep breath and let yoga breathe new energy back into your life.
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.
focusing on your form
class with a group