Do you want to exercise more, lose weight or live a more stress-free life? Yoga might help with all three.
For some, the word “yoga” evokes images of people bending their bodies in strange positions. While some stretching is involved, the practice of yoga encompasses much more.
Yoga focuses on simple poses and breathing to promote physical strength, flexibility and mental peacefulness; it fits into the mind/body practices category of complementary and alternative medicine. To read descriptions of other alternative medicine practices click here.
Yoga began as a Hindu spiritual discipline meant to unify the body, mind and spirit. It is practiced globally by people of all ages, cultures and faith traditions, but does not require a spiritual practice.
To view a video from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) about the potential benefits of yoga for older adults, click here.
Most yoga styles stem from the same basic body poses, and all styles begin with a pose to calm the mind. Yoga’s popularity in North America has led to new forms of yoga, some of which are more strenuous than traditional Hatha yoga. Click here to learn about different yoga styles and poses.
Although classes at fitness centers often focus more on the physical benefits, yoga can help with relaxation, stress reduction and developing a spiritual connection. It can even offer relief from symptoms related to arthritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema, among other conditions.
You can practice yoga on your own, but it’s helpful to have an experienced instructor guide you at first.
If you are interested in trying yoga, please consult your physician first. Yoga might be the answer to your question about aging gracefully.
By Margaret Hemauer, ACC, MA, NHA
Quality/Performance Improvement Consultant