Yoga — a union of mind, body and spirit. If you’ve ever seen pictures of people doing yoga, you probably imagine that to do it you have to be 25 years old, have a perfect body and be able to wrap your knee around your head or balance your entire body on your elbows.
Despite the images you see in magazines, you don’t have to be young and fit to do yoga. In fact, if you’re over 50, yoga is one of the most beneficial types of exercise you can do.
“Yoga is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself,” says Bee Itzenheiser, a Himalayan Institute-certified yoga instructor who teaches “Yoga with Bee” at the Center for Holistic Medicine. A senior citizen herself, Bee has been practicing yoga for more than 48 years. Although she does gentle yoga now, Itzenheiser says continuing to practice yoga has helped her stay flexible, healthy and mentally alert.
“Keeping the mind, body and spirit in balance is essential for maintaining good health,” she says.
That’s why, starting Aug. 1, Itzenheiser will be offering a Hatha-based Gentle Yoga Class for people over 50 at the Center for Holistic Medicine that will include a series of poses and stretches, as well as breathing techniques and guided meditation.
If you’re over 50 and still a little apprehensive about trying yoga, Itzenheiser says don’t be. “Everybody goes at their own pace, they do what they can do,” she says.
Here are some of the top benefits of taking yoga if you’re over 50.
- Builds Strength and Balance
Yoga may look easy, but holding a pose for an extended period of time can work your muscles as well. And the stronger your muscles, the better your balance will be and the less likely that you’ll experience a debilitating fall.
- It Keeps Your Mind Sharp
“For many of us, we’re all over the place. Yoga helps keep us focused,” Itzenheiser says. For example, she has students stand in a tree pose with one foot pressed up against the other leg to help them work on their balance as well as concentration. Studies have also shown that yoga can improve your memory and can be as effective for stimulating your brain as brain training exercises.
- It Reduces Stress
Learning how to breathe deeply from your diaphragm and how to slowly and methodically count your inhales and exhales is a wonderful way of calming the body and reducing stress. Considering that many illnesses are related to stress, learning how to relax can add years to your life!
- It Can Reduce Pain
Stretching doesn’t just feel good – it is beneficial, too. Stretching helps increase blood flow throughout the body and can help release toxins and reduce inflammation that may be causing pain.
- It Protect Your Joints
Yoga’s gentle stretches are especially helpful for anyone who suffers from arthritis or just general aches and pains when you get up in the morning. Stretching helps increase synovial fluid and blood flow to your joints, which can help relieve arthritis pain.
Want to learn more about our new Gentle Yoga Class? Join us on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. starting Aug. 1. Classes are $18 per class or you can purchase six classes for $90. Call 827-236-1701 to register today!