You do not need to be a young or nimble to participate in yoga exercise. Many people worry they are too out of shape or too old to do yoga. But, the truth is, you are never too old to improve flexibility and strength, and yoga is a wonderful tool for increasing both.
Strengthen Your Core
Asanas are a series of yoga poses that stretch your muscles. These poses are designed to increase joint lubrication which in turn increases your range of motion in the joints. In addition to lubricating the joints, the stretches warm up muscles which can also release the lactic acid build-up that causes stiffness and pain. And the benefits are exponential. As you continue to practice the asanas, your increased range of motion will allow you to perform the asanas more precisely further escalating your flexibility and strength.
Yoga stretches not only work your muscles and joints, but all of the soft tissues of your body including ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheaths that surround your muscles. And, no matter your level of yoga, improvements in these areas will begin in around eight weeks or less.
Ashtanga or “Power Yoga” is more vigorous than Hatha or Iyengar. Ashtanga will improve muscle tone, while Hatha Yoga improves strength and endurance. This is because, although there is less movement, you hold the poses more precisely and for a longer periods of time. Poses such as “downward dog,” “upward dog” and the “plank pose” build upper body strength. This is very important as we age. Nearly all yoga poses increase strength in the core of your body. The standing poses build strength in the hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles, while other poses like the “upward dog” and the “chair” pose strengthen your lower back.
Improve Your Lung Capacity
Although yoga is not typically performed as an aerobic activity, lung capacity also improves because of the controlled, deep breathing throughout the excercises. Concentrating on your breath is a practice that brings oxygen into your lungs and, ultimately, to your muscles. Along with oxygenating your blood and therefore your body, it also induces a relaxation response which reduces stress-producing adrenaline. Breathing deeply also improves oxygen flow to the brain adding clarity of thought along with a sense of calm. The consistent results of tranquility produced by yoga exercise/ breathing has researchers exploring the effects of yoga on depression, a common problem with the elderly.
Lower Blood Pressure
Two other universal, age-related, health changes are increased heart rate and higher blood pressure. Regular, consistent yoga exercise lowers blood pressure and slows the heart rate. Yoga can be a key treatment in significantly reducing heart disease and levels of cholesterol when combined with proper diet, a much better alternative to the surgery often required to correct the damage done by these two “silent” assailants of good health. Only 30 minutes a day of stretching and strengthening asana poses is recommended by AARP. And, because yoga is portable, you can practice it wherever you happen to be. All you need is a yoga mat, thick rug, or soft towel.
Look how yoga was able to help Arthur to gain control of his life:
In keeping with MoMM’s policy of “intelligent healthcare takes awareness, implementation and a back-up plan,” always, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, and make sure you have the proper health care coverage through a company that will help you locate a qualified doctor no matter where you are.