Ice is nice, heat is neat, but motion is the lotion!
Any physical activity is an investment in our future and current selves. Maintaining a functioning body that can support us for years to come is vital. Once we start to enter our twilit years it is especially important to stay mobile and pain-free. Yoga for seniors could be the best type of exercise available to maintain a healthy body and mind in preparation for the future. What we put into it, is exactly what we will get back. Yoga keeps your joints mobile, keeps your spine supple and increases balance in the body.
Reduce stiffness and inflammation while increasing flexibility through the practice of yoga.
The one most discouraging issue we face when we age, is joint stiffness, and inflammation throughout the muscles. Whether arthritis is the instigator, as it occurs to the masses regardless of what we try to do to prevent it. Inflammation can lead to diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and other countless age related illnesses as stated by Ron Glasser, Ohio State University professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics.
Synovial fluid is a natural bodily secretion that is found in joints such as our hips, knees, wrists and elbows. With regular practice, various poses help to increase and distribute synovial fluid to joints, allowing for smoother movement as stated by Ken Stanfield, Geriatric health enthusiast and blogger.
Preventing and reversing muscular atrophy with weight bearing exercises
Muscular atrophy occurs when there is limited maintenance of our muscles. They quite literally shrink and weaken into an atotrophic state. It is caused by natural aging, being immobilized after an injury, or many years of leading a sedentary lifestyle.
When starting a yoga class, let your instructor know of any health issues so he or she can help you to make modifications to lessen any discomfort. Classes where yoga is performed on a chair are becoming increasingly popular. Sometimes I will resonate with a specific style of an instructor and I find myself following them around to various locations, it can take a bit of effort to find your fit.
As we age, gaining back muscle mass memory becomes more difficult to attain. That being said you can restore deteriorating muscles with an excellent yoga regimen. There are some poses such as the cobra which works your back and arm muscles, as well works your spinal column. There by improving your posture as well. Another favorite pose for myself is the pigeon pose, it helps to open up your hips. I find myself throwing in a pigeon pose in the morning when I stretch before I get my day started.
Maintaining balance as a way to prevent falls and further debilitating injuries or illness.
Osteoporosis is a risk factor as we age, several factors contribute to developing osteoporosis, however, one factor that we do have control of is being sedentary, When you are sedentary, your skeleton doesn’t receive the required stress needed to stay healthy and keep you in a weight-bearing state.
When you take to an ongoing Yoga regimen, you will be strengthening your core and assisting with your center of gravity. You will be strengthening and toning your muscles, which in turn helps to protect bones.
Yoga helps to loosen up the muscles and in doing so releases any built up tensions. You will soon see after a commitment to a regimen a large increase in your range of motion.
Because of yoga’s cardiovascular benefits, you can possibly help prevent yourself from a life altering stroke.
Gout is another issue that arises in health and that is when there is a buildup of uric acid in the extremities. Practicing yoga can help to alleviate pain associated with gout.
Yoga decreases blood pressure as well as strengthens your immune system, it gets the blood circulating and pumping, distributing crucial nutrients and oxygen to vital organs and muscles.
Yoga often brings a sense of community and a mind-body wellness.
According to Journals of Gerontology, there was a 13% memory and recall improvement within older adults, who practice yoga 3 times a week. The study was based on an eight week time frame, with 3 classes per week.
Yoga is such a win- win for many reasons, the benefits are endless. Not only do you reap all the benefits of endorphins, which secrete into your body when doing dynamic poses. Here by giving you a dose of nature’s own pain killers and helping you attain a general sense of well-being. Yoga has proven to strengthen the mind, body and spirit connection.
I love to go to a class and set up my mat and my space for the next hour. It is so calming, just the ritual of getting my blocks and my bolster organized. I think because yoga is done in bare feet, it helps to make us feel grounded and is soothing.
Anxiety and depression is something that many people deal with, in our older community sometimes depression can become more common due many things, families moving away, grieving the loss of a loved one and facing our own mortality. Yoga can lessen these symptoms and helps to keep the mind clear as possible.
You will find yourself in a like-minded group which in itself is a community of wellness. Having a support system that is based upon health and wellness is priceless, and you may just make some new friends too.
Best Yoga Poses for Seniors
Downward dog Pose
Half Camel Pose
The most dominant surfer in history Kelly Slater has used visualisation or mental imagery it to win major tournament after major tournament. Future Hall of Famer and who many consider to be the greatest quarterback of all time Tom Brady practices it to win super Bowl after super bowl and set numerous records along the way. Visualisation in sport has been an under rated aspect of sport that all champions have in common with each other.
The best hockey player of all time and a prolific goal scorer Wayne Gretzky did it to completely revolutionise the game and to secure records that may never fall.The undisputed greatest basketball player of all time, his Airness himself Michael Jordan, used it to dominate on the court, win six championships, and establish himself as the best player to ever step on the court.
Connor Mcgregor is using it now to becoming the biggest name to ever come in MMA ( mixed martial arts ). He is using mental imagery to visualise the way he will to win each fight, and even more amazingly picking a specific time in the fight that the prediction will happen.
And guess what? It is working to such an accurate way he has become famous for it. McGregor is visualising the fight taking place before it has evened happened. He has visualised the battle of endurance and damage he needs to over come to be the champion.
When McGregor enters the battle his mind is mentally prepared for what it has to endure. In the highest level of competition all the athletes at the top are all in amazing peak physical condition.
It is often that its the mental preparation that can separate the winner from the loser. If an athlete can add an extra 1% through mental preparation that can quite often prove the difference.
Visualisation in sports is powerful and has helped the greatest achieve the success at the highest level. You’d have to be at least a little bit crazy not to seriously consider taking advantage of everything that visualisation has to offer you – regardless of whether or not you’re a professional athlete or weekend warrior.
The best athletes say that they always visualise succeeding in their sport they are about to undertake in before it happens. This allows for their brain to comprehend and understand what it is needed to do and achieve.
A lot of people are under the impression that the active visualisation and the results that athletes are able to enjoy are nothing more than airy fairy, hippie nonsense” and as far from hard science as humanly possible.
Literally nothing could be further from the truth.
Sure, there’s a lot more to performing at the highest possible level in athletics than just visualisating yourself dominating every facet of your game, but at the end of the day there is real power in visualization or mental imagery – and that’s why top athletes all over the world and across history have used it as a tool to achieve greatness. You need to have a reference to visualise.
Visualisation is actually a mental rehearsal of an event that you create in your mind. This allows you to practice as many times as you want, at any time in any place. At little as five
The key to being successful through visualisation is to visualise that you have achieved what you want. Not that you are hoping to achieve it or that if you keep training hard you can achieve this goal in the future. You have to use this mental trick to live and feel yourself succeeding.
On the one hand you will know that this is a mental practice. The important thing to understand about the mind is that the sub conscience mind cannot distinguish between visulisation projections and what is real. The power of the sub conscience mind will learn, grow and progress from the scenarios you create through mental visualisation regardless of whether the events occurred in reality or your imagination.
For example in surfing if you are a surfer trying to surf huge waves and up until this day the biggest wave you have caught is 6 feet. You will not be going straight into surfing 30 feet waves. Your mind does not have the reference to visualise succeeding in such a huge step in skill levels.You will also need to develop your skill set to meet the challenge at hand. Like developing flexibility and strength, you also need to work on developing mental strength.
What is more realistic is going to 8-10 feet waves and first visualising yourself catching an
So much more than simply a imagining things going well, visualisation – when done deliberately and systematically – is almost as rock solid as actually practicing and going through the physical motions of achieving the goals that you visualise in the first place.
Research conducted by Duke University (research that has since been duplicated at prestigious institutions all over the world and is now accepted as scientific fact) showed the real power of visualization in sports.
1) The first group never practiced shooting free throws but was asked to shoot 50 at a time whenever they felt like it over a three-month period of time
2) A second group that practiced 30 minutes a day shooting free throws four times a week over a three-month period of time
3) A third group that visualized shooting free throws every morning for 30 minutes four times a week over a three-month period of time
Unsurprisingly, the control group that never practiced shooting free throws did the worst and the group that actually practiced 30 minutes a day did the best – but the third group, the group that only visualised shooting free throws almost did as well as those that physically practiced.
In fact, they did almost 80% as well as those that physically practiced, lending credence to the fact that there is real power in visualization when it comes to athletics.
At the end of the day, if you are an athlete of any skill level – regardless of whether or not you are a professional or the particular sport that you enjoy most – you are going to benefit considerably from smart visualization.
Not only are you going to want to visualise yourself achieving the athletic goals that you have set out to conquer in the first place, but you’re going to want to visualise yourself “going through the motions” on your road to achievement.
This is where the biggest benefits are going to show up, has your brain is going to have a tough time differentiating between the physical memory and the psychological memory – which is why you’re able to get upwards of 80% of the same results simply visualising your practice.
Give it a shot for a couple of months. It won’t take long until you start to see real and tangible results.
By then you’ll be a convert to the reality of visualization in sports.
Visualisation in sport has not just appeared by itself. The mind and body connecting is being documented through medical science more and more . One of the latest examples that has been proven is the study in The Cleveland Clinic where it was proven that using the mind to only imagine specific muscles contracting every day for weeks resulted in an increased level of strength with-in the targeted muscles.
Roger Federer, one of the greatest tennis players in history visualises each match before he has even stepped foot onto the court. As he steps on to the court each time Federer has already visualised winning the match countless times. This can then be broken down onto winning each point. All time great Jack Nicklaus and Roger Federer both famously practice mentally each big moment of their careers before executing and accomplishing.
Today you will find that most of the best athletes and sports stars in the world visualising winning and performing as a champion movements before any given event. Visualisation in sports is just starting to be given the recognition with-in the professional sporting circles.
You can bet you will be hearing a lot more on visualisation in sports into the future.
If you are looking to become involved in yoga today it is beneficial to firstly understand the basic principles of this ancient spiritual, physical and mental practice.
This guide for beginners helps educate and provide an understanding of the basic principles of yoga.
There is a wide variety of schools and styles to suit just about anyone. So it doesn’t matter what your age, size or gender, there will be a beneficial style yoga that is waiting for you.
What most people are surprised to first learn is that yoga is not only about stretching and meditating. It has a vast history; is philosophical in nature; is a life long journey and can be practiced by anyone at any place or time.
What is yoga?
Yoga is one of the fundamental systems of Indian thought, (philosophy) known collectively as darsana, meaning –view, point of view, insight, vision. Simply expressed Yoga practice is a means of looking within, of reversing the outward flow of consciousness within to a state of quiet, joy, understanding and peace.
In the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit the word ”yuj” means yoking, joining or uniting and it is from this word that the word yoga was derived. Yoga is the ability to direct the mind, a path available to every human being and a natural way to be, aligned with our environment and other living beings.
Although having its’ roots in Indian thought, Yoga is universal in content. There are many paths on the journey to an understanding of Yoga. Every person walks their own unique path however Yoga can be defined as being truly present on our journey, in every action and in every moment. It is a means to control your mind, balancing and harmonizing your body and emotions through union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness. Yoga is union or oneness and the practice allows one to find the quiet space within.
Yoga can mean something different for each individual, depending on lifestyle and interests. A further meaning of Yoga is an attainment of what was previously unattainable. The starting point for this thought is that if we find the means to bring desire into action that step is Yoga, in fact, every change is Yoga.
A Yoga practice teaches how to use our body to achieve this mystical union through breath, movement, postures, relaxation and meditation. Yoga is a way to participate in life, it is not passive and requires action – attentive action.
Yoga is not a religion but rather a philosophy, however it does provide a vehicle for spiritual growth. One does not need to surrender religious beliefs; in fact yoga can enhance unity with the Devine.
The philosophy of Yoga is beautifully expressed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra - a classical guide to Yoga practice that outlines the “Eights Limbs of Yoga”.
Adherence to and study of these “limbs” informs our path.
Exploration of these limbs leads to refinement and ultimate internal focus. The third limb, asanas or postures is the most popular today and the physicality of this limb provides strength and stamina for the inner journey of meditation and concentration.
Many different interpretations of the meaning of Yoga have been studied throughout history and there are many possible ways to interpret meaning, however fundamentally we can understand Yoga as an individual journey on a path on which we need to pay careful attention and observation to the direction in which we are travelling.
Brief History of Yoga
Yoga, a vast and complex tradition, meaning unity, oneness and a harmonizing balance between mind, breath and body, has a long history. Yoga originated in India thousands of years ago, evidenced through archeological excavations from the Indus Valley that uncovered images of Lord Shiva in yoga postures and meditation positions.
It is known that Yoga predates written history and that over 5000 years ago it was practiced - the discipline passing orally from teacher to student. Part of the Hindu religious tradition, Yoga was taught in order to enhance and develop the body, mind and emotions of the many disciples and devotees.
We do not know exactly when Yoga began, but it was considered ancient at the time when The Bhagavad Gita, a popular scripture, was composed 2500 years ago. The history of Yoga can be traced as we read the many sacred texts of yoga, such as the Vedas, the Upanishads and The Bhagavad Gita.
The songs, mantras, rituals, practices and beliefs documented in these sacred texts provide the foundation of yogic principles that are applied today, many thousands of years since the ancients observed the perfect balance in nature and sought to apply the same to humankind.
Later, some time in the second century, over 2000 years ago, the great mystical scholar and yogi Patanjali, who is often considered the father of yoga, wrote The Yoga Sutras. In these works Patanjali presented the knowledge of the ancient texts in an organized form and he created Asta-anga -“Eight Limbs of Yoga”, a potent, affirmative guide for heartfelt living; universal in context yet definitive and concise. These sutras still underpin and strongly influence most forms of modern Yoga. In the same period the yogi, Swatmarama wrote Hatha Yoga Padipika, a further treatise on body, mind control.
These sutras still underpin and strongly influence most forms of modern Yoga. In the same period the yogi, Swatmarama wrote Hatha Yoga Padipika, a further treatise on body, mind control.
Eastern Yoga masters began travelling to the West in the early 20th century resulting in increased interested in the practice of Hatha Yoga. The life work of the yogis T Krishnamacharya and Swami Sivananda promoted this practice in both the East and West - many outstanding texts being written by Swami Sivananda and Krishnamacharya and his students BKS Iyengar, TKV Desikachar and Pattabhi Jois to compliment the ancient works. It is said that Yoga is India’s greatest gift to the world.
Reading and reflecting on any of these above mentioned texts can provide further information on the history and practice of yoga – the spiritual union of individual consciousness and universal consciousness, enduring through the ages. This ancient and vast tradition is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.
How is The Best Way to Begin Yoga?
Begin without struggle or obsession but with intention. An individual journey, you may begin from any starting point such as by studying the Yoga Sutras, by meditating or by engaging in the physical exercises of Yoga – asanas.
How to start yoga will always depend on the individuals needs and reasons for beginning yoga. More often than not the best way to start yoga is to find a beginners yoga class in your local area. You will quickly find out which style of Yoga is best suited for you.
How to start yoga will always depend on the individuals needs and reasons for beginning yoga. More often than not the best way to start yoga is to find a beginners yoga class in your local area. You will quickly find out which style of Yoga is best suited for you.
Thinking about beginning yoga can often be more difficult than actually going to a beginners yoga class and participating in a class. Look around at what type of Yoga is available to you and what type you feel may suit your personality then make the appropriate contacts and begin with an open heart and an open mind. The student-teacher relationship is an important component; so ensure that your teacher enables individual expression in a supportive context.
If you choose to practice asanas you may begin your practice with a brief meditation/intention. This enables you to ground yourself and connect with the space you are entering.
Once you begin you will see that the most basic and essential element is the pranayama - breath. Linking the breath to body/movement is intrinsic to practice as the breath is the intelligence of the body. It is important to breathe in and out through the nose and into the belly. Concentration on the breath allows the body to become balanced and controlled as breath awareness energizes our mind and body.
Breath is our life force and we need oxygen to purify the blood stream and burn up waste matter. Practice should therefore begin with gentle, deep breathing connected to movement. Just as Yoga is movement from one point to another so too is the breath. Practice is also looking for a balance of Sthira – strength, steadiness and stability while being alert and Sukha – comfort, lightness, flexibility while being at ease and happy.
Guided by your teacher and/or independent research you can practice Asanas or postures, intended to instil steadiness, alertness whilst maintaining comfort in the pose and acceptance of our body as it is. It is beneficial to take time to observe how you feel before, during and after each posture, as only then can you be aware of the vital flow of energy through your body.
A basic practice involves warm-up sequences followed by basic Yoga postures such as seated twists, down facing dog, cat cow, child pose, cobra, mountain, triangle and forward bend. Each pose should be complimented by a counter pose and each pose should be appropriate to need.
At the conclusion of your practice it is important to take time to relax your body through deep breathing and mind concentration. Resting on your back, this allows for the release of any tension in the body and for restoration to take place through oxygen exchange. This is the practice of Yoga Nidra. A short seated meditation after Yoga Nidra is a transition back into the world.
Remember always that the breath is your best teacher – compromising the easy flow of breath to achieve an asana is not practicing Yoga. Listen to your own body, find your own rhythm and allow your body to be your teacher.
Yoga teaches to accept yourself where you are, so to begin practice you need to know your needs, your strengths and your weaknesses.There are many different styles of yoga practice from which you can choose the style most suitable.
There is a Yoga class to suit everyone
Hatha, the Sanskrit term for physical posture, is a slow, gentle, balancing practice where poses are held for a few breaths. Hatha Yoga is an ideal style of yoga for beginners. Hatha Yoga is often voted as the best yoga for beginners.
Vinyasa Yoga links movement to breath in a quick paced, dynamic movement based practice. It is intense and appeals to those wanted a strenuous workout or endurance athletes. This is not a style of beginner yoga. Its better to gradually work your way up towards a Vinyasa yoga class.
Iyengar Yoga is focussed on body alignment and poses are held for a while with the aid of props such as straps and blocks. It is a detailed and precise practice, slow paced and gentle.
Ashtanga Yoga follows a non-stop sequence of poses in the same order in every class. The routine poses are challenging, designed to build internal heat through breath and movement. The structure of Ashtanga practice appeals to those who like order and predictabilty in their lives.
Bikram Yoga is a 90minute sequence of 26 poses practiced in a heated room. It is a vigorous practice and it is necessary to hydrate sufficiently. Like Ashtanga it is orderly, predictable and challenging.
Hot Yoga does not follow the Bikram sequence but is practiced in a heated room. It is a tough, sweaty work out.
Kundalini Yoga is mentally challenging. Kriyas – repetitive physical exercises, intense breath work, chanting, singing and meditation are all components of Kundalini Yoga. It is a more spiritual and philosophical practice therefore suited to those who are looking for more than the physical. It focusses heavily on the internal aspects of yoga.
Yin Yoga is slow, calm and meditative. Poses are held for several minutes to lengthen connective tissue and fascia and calm the mind. It is restorative and balancing.
Restorative Yoga is very slow moving and calming, with long poses allows the mind and body to experience deep relaxation. Props are used to support the body in each pose. It is very gentle and perfect for anyone wanting to unwind.
Being sensitive to your needs and intentions helps in making a choice about what style of Yoga to practice.
Best 5 Yoga Poses for Beginners
The best poses are often the ones that are the most enjoyable however these five poses can form the basis for practice.
Mountain Pose / Tadasana
Downward facing dog / Adho mukha svanasana
Child’s pose / Balasana
Warrior pose / Virabhadrasana
Tree Pose / Vriksasana
How Can I Start Yoga at Home ?
Some times it's not easy to find yoga classes for beginners where you live. The times may not suit your daily schedule or you might live a bit to far away from the closest school. There are a lot of reasons why it might be best to start beginning yoga at home. All that really matters is that you do make a start.
Start with intention and set realistic goals perhaps by starting with a short daily sequence and then building up practice. Your home practice should be based on your individual needs. You can move at your own pace and are more able to listen and intuit your body and its’ needs modifying practice accordingly. A short restorative practice is perfect if you do not have a lot of time but are weary whereas standing poses provide grounding and stability while an energizing morning practice is a great way to start the day.
You may want to listen to an instructional Yoga app, have a DVD to guide you or you may want to bring what you have learned in a class or read about into your home practice. The choice is entirely yours.
It is also good to have a special space in which to practice. Somewhere quiet, special, spiritual, where you have all you need, such as your mat and props, close by as well as objects or art works of personal significance. If you enjoy music while you practice the choice is yours. In actual fact by doing yoga at home you have your unique yoga studio.
A home practice is empowering, as you are in control and are able to develop a sound knowledge of your body and its’ needs. Listening to these needs and responding with relevant practice increases resilience and self-knowledge. Practicing Yoga at home for beginners is a great way to get started. There is an impressive selection of Yoga videos for beginners available for an excellent Yoga session in the comfort of your own home.
A home practice is a great gift to self.
What Clothing and Equipment Do I Need to Get Started ?
You’re going to want comfortable, stretchy clothing to practice in, but avoid wearing clothes that are too loose as they can be a distraction during your practice.
Also, if you have long hair you’re going to want to have a hair elastic, headband, and/or clips ready to keep your hair out of your face.
A Yoga matt, towel or a spongy matt can make you more comfortable. While props such as bolsters, straps and blocks can also assist you. Yoga exercises for beginners will rarely involve any props and schools will often supply props if needed.
The practice of Yoga Asanas aims to develop the balance between the two qualities of Sthira, meaning strength, steadiness and stability, being alert, and Sukha meaning comfort, lightness, flexibility, feeling at ease… happy. So Dress and equip yourself accordingly. There is no excuse now to get started. Go and progressive from Yoga for beginners to Yogis master!