We have been very blessed lately with a series of guest posts related to elder care and aging seniors. This is another great post that should be of interest to any senior who has the desire to stay limber and active as long as possible. Feel free to click on the links in the article to find out more about the author of this interesting post. Enjoy!
Let’s face it: keeping fit at any age is a major challenge, right? It doesn’t help either that it does not get easier as you age! For many women (and men I would suppose) we tend to brush aside concerns with our health and fitness because of the busy nature of life in general. Many times we get too caught up with the demands of work, parenthood, and so on and so forth that we barely have time to prepare healthy meals, much less find time for exercise. Because of this fast-paced, highly demanding life we live, we can find ourselves just going through the motions and forgetting to take care of our health.
As we age and things start to settle down, we suddenly can find ourselves overweight, unhealthy and well, so out of shape. Often times (sadly I must add) we do not recognize these unhealthy habits until our bodies all but give up on us.
I have come to learn, however, that it really is never too late to make changes. While the effects of our unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles may make themselves known, by adapting little changes and incorporating movement and healthier options to our lives can turn back the clock and make us feel young (and yes, look young!) again.
A very wonderful change one can make even in their fifties is exploring a yoga practice to help relieve stress, manage health and keep the mind, body and spirit fit. Many may have concerns about their physical capability to do yoga, especially at this age, but there is a lot of information available on the web that indicates that yoga can be done at any age. Some might feel that it is too late to start or try it for the first time ever at 50, but it can be done. Not just that, it can actually be very good for the aging individual.
A particular form or style of yoga that caught my attention recently is called yin yoga. Unlike the more active “yang” styles of yoga, such as Ashtanga, Bikram and vinyasa, yin is a more relaxed, slow and quiet practice. It is described by some as a calming and relaxing practice. Some would even call it a restful practice. Yin yoga targets the deep connective tissues in the body and the joints, particularly on the lower part of the body such as the hips, lower spine and thighs. Most asanas (or poses) are done in a seated or supine position, as compared to the usual standing and balancing poses of the other forms of yoga. Further, in yin, one holds the poses for three to five minutes which allows the connective tissues and ligaments in the body to stretch and in effect, restore itself.
Besides the relaxation it can provide, the benefits of yin include increased flexibility as it allows the body to “open up” from the usual tightness we hold our bodies in and a release from the tension we tend to keep in our joints, as well as improved organ functions as yin yoga targets the meridians of the body and allows for a better energy flow. Yin yoga is also said to be beneficial to people who have chronic back and hip problems or pain, for those who are ill or have low energy levels, and individuals who are slowly returning to a more active lifestyle or exercise after an injury. It also helps one learn meditation and allows for one to learn how to quiet or still their minds thus allowing one to be more centered and calm.
A concern for many aging individuals, women in particular, is health issues such as osteoporosis. While some of the more active asanas in yang yoga practices can be more worrisome for the older practitioner, some would say yin is quite recommendable. Because of the nature of the practice, many of the physical demands or challenges that other forms of yoga are eliminated. While the nature of the practice may vary depending on the leanings or style of the teacher, for the most part, Yin Yoga is adaptive enough that it allows for one to go only as far as one can go. One is not forced to get to the fullness of the pose immediately if the body does not let for it to happen. Rather, one approaches the asana with relaxed muscles and allows for time and gravity to take them to the fullness of the pose.
Some important things to keep in mind, however, in deciding whether or not yoga is for you are as follows:
1. What exactly can my body do? Are there health concerns that limit my ability to perform and participate in such physical exercises?
2. What does my doctor say about it? As with any exercise regimen, it is important to get clearance from your physician in order to ensure your optimum health and care.
3. Lastly, what am I really up to doing? Do I want a quiet restful practice or do I want the physical challenge of a more active yoga style?
Marina is SAHM, freelance writer and co-owner of a mirror website DecorativeMirrrorsBoutique.com