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

 

Next term – 19th February to 30th March 2018 – Stretch & Relax Classes at Tinwell and Preston

   

The work for this half term will focus on some standing postures – the Warriors. These are great for stretching and  strengthening the legs whilst also developing the core and back muscles. We’ll continue to improve our breathing with the stepped breath – great for relaxation too.

Is Your Posture Getting On Your Nerves?

Did your know that your posture effects the alignment of the spine and this can have a knock-on effect on the nervous system?

As the nerves travel through the spine – down the central cavity and in between the vertebrae – it stands to reason that any misalignment due to injury or bad posture will have and effect on your body and mind.

nerves of the spine

When the body is in correct alignment there will be less tension and the nervous system will run smoothly, unimpeded as nature intended.

Below is a which indicates problems and their possible sources if nerves become pressured by the spine…

spinalchart

This is only meant to hi-light how important posture and alignment are in our lives – not for self diagnoses or to worry you.

Stretching out the spine in the 6 main directions, as we do in yoga, and awareness of good posture should enable all of us to move with grace and live without pain.

If you want to read more about what goes on inside you… try Spine Universe where you can watch their short video.

If you would like to work on your posture and gain a greater understanding of the spine and how to strengthen the muscles around it, why not come along to my workshop in Ryhall on Saturday 24th February? We will be looking at exercises to do just that – you can see more information here or contact me to see if there is a place.

 

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

Stepping Off the Christmas Merry-Go-Round

 

With the count-down to Christmas now in full swing – juggling who’s going where, what to buy for so-and-so and fitting everyone in over the festive period – things get frantic for the body, mind and soul.

At these times our heads are jam packed with to-do lists and our bodies are tense holding onto every breath.  The build up of anxiety is everywhere – ahhhhhh Black Friday panic…..   Just when we need to relax and enjoy the season of goodwill to all men – we are more tired and worried than ever. Now is the perfect time for yoga…

YOGA? HOW CAN I FIND THE TIME FOR THAT?

But this is when we need it most – simply take a moment out, step off the Merry-Go-Round for one minute and read this mini-meditation-

Sit in any comfortable position…….

Breathe in and open up in the heart space, sit tall and beautiful.

Expand from the inside out, become more spacious  – open up to the breath.

Gently soften the eyes and feel your skin; feel the clothes touching your skin, feel the hair on your head, feel a smile on your face.

Feel beyond the skin to the Vijnanamaya Kosha – the astral or wisdom body – our aura that surrounds us.

Lean back a little and feel the support of the cosmos that surrounds you.

Breathe in and draw from the abundant well of air that we live in and lives in us.

Take heart that you are not some isolated thing battling single handedly against the world.

You are the world – and what will be will be.

Invite your breath to become smooth as silk and quiet as a whisper.

While here in this place now, feel gratitude to the earth for the sunshine and air we breathe.

Drink in each breath and be grateful for all that you have.

Be grateful for your challenges for they allow you to interact with the world and demonstrate your passions.

With this gratitude in your heart take your current experience and think of how they might be in the future.

Plant a seed for your future.

Invite the pace of your life to flow smoothly and easily, see yourself as you would like to be.

Breathe in peace, breath out love.

Let’s Explore… VAJRASANA

Sit in a kneeling position with the heals rolling outwards and your bottom in the hollow of your feet.

Place the hands on the knees, soften the gaze and breath gently through the nose.

Vajrasana is useful to stretch out the tops of the feet. There are many benefits gained in the pelvis and pelvic floor region to spending 5 minutes or so in this posture. It also engages the muscles of the core and back so that they become used to supporting an upright posture. In time this becomes an effortless position to sit in.

This is a great  posture for meditation because the spine is naturally straight. It is also increases the efficiency of digestion as the contents of the abdomen sit in an upright position allowing gravity to help.

Smile and repeat to yourself

“I am fully present in my body, in the light of consciousness”.

 

Often people find that the feet become cramped and the legs are tight when they first try Vajrasna. Sit for a few minutes to start with – don’t over do it – use a block or folded towel under your bottom. Practice, practice, practice.  Be patient with yourself and over time you will become used to the posture. There are many benefits to achieving a comfortable Vajrasana and several other postures begin in Vajrasana so it’s a very good thing to get used to it 😉

Stretch & Relax – September 2017

In our Stretch & Relax classes this year we’ll be going back to basics to remind ourselves of how yoga can help us to live a happier life free from suffering – often this means tackling minor ailments that we simply put up with.  Things like tension headaches, back pain, joint pain and constipation.  All of these reduce our quality and enjoyment of life – so why put up with it? Let’s get our mojo back, find our Joie de Vivre (painting above is of that title by Pablo Picasso)

We will begin with the Anti Rheumatic/Arthritic group of exercises. Arthritis is a term covering a wide range of conditions and diseases of the joints. Joints become painful, swell and the enforced lack of use means that the muscles around the joint then weaken. Osteoarthritis is the most common and affects many people as they get older. There are around 100 other forms which can be caused by injury, obesity, stress or be hereditary. The yogic anti arthritic range is extremely beneficial both to prevent and reverse the condition. When joints become stiff and painful this results in the poor flow of fluids and energy around the body. The result is often not just localised problems but the whole body can feel below par. This group of exercises therefore works on the whole being and can have a very meditative, calming and uplifting effect.

You can follow the exercises in the yoga handbook Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha – it is called Pawanmuktasana Part 1. PMA1 for short!

Are you suffering with symptoms of the menopause?

Yoga is a great practice to get into to alleviate symptoms of the Menopause. There are specific practices to help with hot flushes and stomach aches but also more general, all round practices that will help to overcome the feelings of depression and sadness that can accompany this phase of life.

To get a great insight into how yoga can help why not book into this one day workshop held at the Satyananda Yoga Centre London in October? Here you will benefit from expert advice and guidance to enable you to sail through the menopause years minimising the symptoms and living a full unhindered life.

Keep Your Cool

When the weather stays hot it can give rise to hot tempers and irrational behavior. (Are you finding this in your family too???) One of the reasons is lack of sleep, when it’s hot we can find that our bedding is not really suitable for the temperature. How many of us think ‘I must get the summer duvet out tomorrow’ but never do it? Yoga teaches us that rest and sleep are vital to our lives – so make an effort… get that summer duvet out and take your time to ensure you and your loved ones get the full 8 hours – it will make tempers less hot and frayed.

Here is a quick checklist to help you get a good nights’ sleep in the heat –

– reduce the ‘togs’ on everyone’s bed (not just your own)

– take a glass of water to bed

– practice a soothing posture before bedtime (forward bend such as this would be good)

– practice the cooling breath for about 10 rounds before bedtime

– if you wake up in the night hot and bothered then you can use the equalising breath to sooth the mind and body – breathing in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 5

Happy slumbers x

Beginners Yoga – June 17

We’ll be focusing our practice on relaxing the spine and the breath this term with a view to soothing the nervous system.

The nervous system controls and regulates all the other systems of the body – we have this year looked at the skeletal, muscular, digestive, cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The nervous system carries messages to and from the brain – the above image shows a simple diagram of it. We don’t need to know all the details – however it is helpful to know a little bit about how the nervous system can keep us calm or can place us in ‘fight or flight’ mode which is what we call ‘stress’. I’ll be talking in some depth about this during the classes, but it is more important to have an appreciation of how your nervous system responds to your life than an in depth knowledge of the anatomy.

The postures will help to ease out the spine – working with some simple back bending. Our relaxations will be developing some breathing techniques to help the nervous system return to homeostasis (a state of equilibrium).

Would you like to join us? We welcome new beginners into the class – please email me here to book your space,