50+ Fitness: Five Principles of Yoga
People of all ages and fitness levels may enjoy the positive benefits of practicing Yoga. The poses and stretches, help develop strength, balance and flexibility and the meditation along with breathing techniques are helpful in the management of stress, concentration and mood.
Before Starting to Practice Yoga
Although Yoga is non-aerobic and safe for most healthy adults, it is possible to overstretch causing pain or muscle injury. If you have pre-existing health conditions, talk with your doctor about your interest in practicing Yoga. A certified Yoga instructor should also be able to suggest the right stretches and poses to suit you best. Start slowly, know your own limitations and listen to signals from your body. Yoga exercises should not hurt, the purpose of Yoga is to safely stretch and gradually build muscle while increasing the range of motion in the joints. When practiced properly, you will see improvement in flexibility and muscle tone.
Relaxation: the First Principle of Yoga
Relaxation techniques are practiced in each session of Yoga and the effects of proper relaxation help to relieve muscle tension and rest the body. In learning relaxation, a sense of inner calmness will develop and soon begins to carry over into the daily activities of life.
Exercise: the Second Principle of Yoga
The body is designed for movement and the postures, or Asanas, work all parts of the body by stretching and toning the muscle groups; the ongoing benefit is flexibility of joints and spine. Improved blood circulation is also a result of rejuvenating the body’s systems through exercise. Yoga postures are synchronized with breathing rhythms and that leads directly into the third basic principle of Yoga.
Proper Breathing: the Third Principle of Yoga
Correct breathing should be slow, rhythmic and deep, inhaling to fill the lungs for maximum oxygen intake and exhaling slowly. Regulated breathing helps recharge the body resulting in a more focused state of mind.
Healthy Diet: the Fourth Principle of Yoga
A balanced diet based upon natural foods in moderate quantities will properly fuel and sustain the body and assist in building a strong immune system.
Meditation and Positive Thinking: the Fifth Principle of Yoga
The way we think affects everything we do in life and a positive attitude will help to achieve peace of mind. Control of the mind and improved ability to focus are just a couple of the positive results of practicing meditation, in addition, techniques to quiet stressful ‘mind chatter’ can also help relieve symptoms of depression.
Practicing Yoga is Good for Heart Health
The positive benefit to the heart is among the most researched areas of study relating to Yoga and heart health. Positive effects include lower blood pressure and reduced heart rate; a slower heart rate being desirable to individuals with heart disease and risk of stroke. Lowered cholesterol and improved immune system are also common to individuals practicing Yoga.
Yoga Improves Sleep Patterns
A study of sleep quality in older adults included sixty nine members of the same seniors’ community. Volunteers were place into three study groups: Yoga, Ayurveda (a herbal preparation) and the third being the control group with no exercise added to their routine. Sleep patterns were assessed the week before beginning the study and again one week into the study. The Yoga group reported a reduced length of time it took them to fall asleep plus a better quality night’s sleep with an average of one added hour of sleep per night; there were no significant changes to sleep patterns in the other groups. (Reference: Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore, India)
Yoga Classes in Seniors Communities
The health benefits combined with the social enjoyment in being part of a class are reasons that Yoga is becoming a regular offering in seniors’ communities across Canada. Yoga has been practiced throughout history as a lifestyle and integrating the principles of Yoga into everyday life is helping those that practice it to improve and revitalize the mind, soul and body.
By Alice Lucette