8 anti-aging benefits of regular yoga practice

Age means nothing in yoga. Our bodies, if kept healthy and happy will go on and on, it’s something that even scientists are coming to agree with. The practice of yoga doesn’t have to take over your life, make you eat vegetarian or grow your hair long.

Whilst there are some things that improve with age – decision making, empathy and happiness, there are a lot of things that do change as we get older that are not for the better; it doesn’t have to be that way.  And it’s never too late to start… just so long as you make a commitment to practice regularly, little and often is the key.

1 Arthritis

Problem – painful joints (especially hands and knees) can make us feel really stiff and creaky – making us grumpy as it hurts to do things we used to get pleasure from.

How Yoga Helps – gentle regular movements help to bring synovial fluids to the joints making them feel more flexible and reduce swelling which relieves tension and pain.

2 Osteoporosis

Problem – as we age our bone density decreases which means our bones are more likely to crack if we fall.

How Yoga Helps – weight bearing exercises help to increase bone density. Although the gains are relatively small, these gains along with the improved muscle tone and balance can help to negate the effects of osteoporosis.

3 Insomnia

Problem – as we age we need less sleep and can be woken with the need to go to the loo.

How Yoga Helps – Gentle stretching and rhythmic breathing techniques can help to induce sleep. Relaxation exercises learnt in a class environment can prove very useful and help us get a full night of restful, healing sleep.

4 Blood Pressure

Problem – High blood pressure is a common ailment affecting us as we age due to reduced elasticity of blood vessels and the decreasing ability to process dietary salt.

How Yoga Helps – The regular practice of deep breathing and gentle physical exercises helps the tissues of the body to remain healthy and elastic. Attending classes helps people to look after themselves, be with like minded people, feel supported in adopting more positive approach to diet and lifestyle.

5 Hormonal Changes

Problem – menopause can cause debilitating disruption to life with wild mood swings and temperature fluctuations.

How Yoga Helps – relaxation techniques and gentle flowing posture work practiced daily can help to decrease symptoms.

6 Myofascial Tightening

Problem – a decrease in collagen produced by the body causes a loss of flexibility in our muscles and connective tissue, this leads to stiffness, tension and imbalance in the body.

How Yoga Helps – gentle, regular stretching keeps the body’s soft tissue fluid and flexible.

7 Ligament Tears

Problem – tears are common in stressed and overused ligaments of the knee joint, shoulders, hips and ankles.

How Yoga Helps – by strengthening the muscles around these joints the stress is reduced on the ligaments and the joint is able to retain it’s healthy use. There is a saying in yoga ‘use it or lose it’ and the best way to keep joints moving is to keep joints moving.

8 Core Strength and Back Pain

Problem – pain is caused by nerves being squashed by unsupported vertebrae. Gravitational forces and poor posture will continually cause vertebrae to want to move downwards. The only way to keep the spine in correct alignment is to support it with strong muscles. There are many spinal issues that can arise as we age – narrowing of the spinal canal, herniated, bulging or slipped discs – all cause back pain which is commonly managed with pain relief tablets.

How Yoga Helps – gentle work to strengthen the back, core muscles (and really the whole of the body from the feet to the eyebrows) will help the back to be supported by muscle and bring about correct alignment to the spinal column.

There is only one rule that you need to know in a yoga class “the posture should be steady and comfortable” – so if you are steady and comfortable you are doing it right. Some people may wish to stand on their heads, some may want to tie themselves up like a pretzel and that’s OK so long as it’s steady and comfortable for them. If standing on your 2 feet with the back in good alignment is what you do at your first yoga class – so long as it’s steady and comfortable then you are doing yoga that is right for you. Your practice is just that – your practice. Don’t delay – you can begin today – see my free online yoga exercises here

 

Stretch & Relax – September 2018

In this year’s Stretch & Relax classes we’ll be taking a tour around the body seeing how each part feels for us on a personal level and also how improvements with one area can often alleviate issues in others… We will begin with our FEET which form the foundation o f our standing postures and which we rely on for our mobility and independence as we get older.

Feet are actually quite fascinating once you get over the look of them. They consist of lots of tiny bones, with lots of tiny joints in between. When the joints in the feet aren’t as flexible as they could be the result is that the feet can’t operate as the ‘suspension’ mechanism of the body – so even walking (let alone running and jumping) can become problematic to joints further up the body (knees, hips and spine) as the foot is not taking the impact of the weight of the body as it steps/plods around. We will use a variety of means – movement, massage with a small ball and massage with our hands to help to get our feet more flexible. And do you know… that because of all the nerve endings in the souls of the feet working with the feet can be extremely relaxing and calming. A traditional yogic remedy for insomnia is self foot massage. We’ll spend some time working on proper alignment of the feet as this can help prevent and heal foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, and shin splints not to mention a variety of mis-alignments further up the body. Keeping the feet flexible and relaxed also helps circulation of fluids to this area which over time helps to keep the skin on the feet healthy. Poor skin health is what leads to the build up of bacteria, smells, verrucas, athletes’ foot etc

So before we pack our tootsies into the boots for winter let’s give them some TLC and – who knows you may notice that the pain in your neck goes as well 🙂

 

Yes, You Can Start Yoga In Your 70’s!

I first took up yoga when I was 73!!

I found the stretch and relax class at Preston Village Hall (Tuesdays 7 – 8) perfect for me – not too much strenuous exercise.

The breathing and gentle exercises helped with my sleeping and relaxation at the same time as strengthening my muscles and bones.

My aching fingers and wrists have vanished!!! I can’t believe it!!!

Margaret, Uppingham

Growing Younger with Yoga

This book by Louise Wiggins is a very accessible book for anyone to pick up and use – in fact it would make a great gift for someone who was thinking about yoga but wasn’t convinced that the practice was for them.

It is such a wise book that I can’t help returning to it for inspiriation again and again…

“Yoga Teaches… We are as young as the spine is flexible. Old age begins when we allow the spine to stiffen.”

Besides many pages of postures and routines for arthritis, relaxation and bouncing back from illness, Louise includes plenty of testimonials from people 70- 80+ about how yoga really has given them a new lease of life. There are very compelling reasons for practicing a daily routine of yoga plus recipes and tips on healthy diet too.

“Biologists agree that our biological age potential is about 130! That means when we reach the age of 65, we are really only middle aged!

If we expect to remain active and strong as we age, we will. If we succumb to the belief that we grow frail and weak as we age, we will.  Our thoughts and beliefs hold great power over our biology and our growth.”

I thoroughly recommend it for you and for you to give as a gift to someone you love.

New Hobbies Improve Your Memory

lady with camera

An interesting piece of research undertaken by Dr Denise Park, neuroscientist in Texas University shows that learning something fairly challenging as a hobby – digital photography for instance – caused overall improvement of memory with long lasting effects.

It is said to work by strengthening the connections between the parts of our brains – keeping all the areas in communication with each other and in good working order. The more complex things we learn the more different aspects of our brains have to work together.

The other aspect found to help our brains is exercise – in fact gentle exercise 45 minutes, 3 times per week is said to increase the volume of the brain assist its function.

All in all the research demonstrated that by keeping learning NEW things and exercising our bodies regularly we can remain healthy and help to ward of mental and degenerative diseases.

Well I was very pleased to hear this as I’m always seeking out new things to learn and teach!

Perhaps this is one of the reasons yogis tend to live long lives. Yoga has a very large scope of practices and philosophy to maintain the interest… from physical exercises to help keep arthritis at bay to learning a new language (Sanskrit) and all the history, anatomy and physiology to boot.

Other suggestions from the study included knitting, quilting and bridge. I would add playing a musical instrument, joining a choir, painting and drawing (esp good for the eye sight) and joining a book club.

Read more about Dr Parks study here

New Yoga Classes From September 2015

From September 7th I will be adding in 3 new classes to the schedule – 2 on Monday evenings at Tinwell Village Hall.  From 6 – 7 I’ll be introducing a brand new style of class “YOGA FIT” which will consist of learning a range of postures and then linking them into a vinyasa flow (flowing from one to the next with the breath). This class will end with a short relaxation in Shavasana.  From 7.15 – 8.15 I’ll be teaching my “STRETCH&RELAX” yoga class consisting of 45 minutes of postures focused on stretching the back followed by a guided deep relaxation.
The 3rd new class will be an additional “STRETCH&RELAX” at Ryhall on Wednesdays 11.45 – 12.45 with an emphasis on gentle stretching for the over 60’s or for those with limitations.

Check out the new timetable and see detailed class descriptions here
If you, or anyone you know, may be interested in the above classes – all cost £6 per class payable termly – please do get in touch by email to book your space.  Places will be limited to 15 per class to allow for plenty of room to move and allow my personal attention. If you want any more information or have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.