When you think of yoga, you may have a mental picture of a lithe, young woman bending her body into pretzel-like poses. But according to 54-year-old Don Kendrick, who has replacement hips and back problems, no matter what your age, body health or health, “Every asana can be modified or an alternative found to reap all of the benefits of yoga.”
So exactly what benefits can you expect?
“Muscle and joint stiffness can limit a person’s ability to live independently,” says Fallon Teufert, owner of Synergy Yoga Studio in Richmond, VA. By improving your flexibility, mobility and range of motion, yoga has a big impact on your ability to live your life exactly the way you want.
Yoga also calms and centers you to reduce stress, lower your blood pressure, increase your ability to focus and help you sleep better. By stimulating your bones to retain calcium, it even promotes bone health. And this low-impact form of exercise is particularly beneficial for those suffering from osteoarthritis.
However, don’t just grab a mat and head to a studio. Teufert, who has many seniors in her classes, recommends that you first consult your doctor to determine whether yoga is appropriate for your condition. Then find a good gentle class like Hatha or Restorative Yoga and make sure that the instructors are certified (they’ll have a “RYT” designation).
She adds, “Take time to speak to the instructor before class. Let them know of any health situations you have, as he or she will be better able to provide you with modifications throughout class.”
A regular yoga practice has helped Don Kendrick gain flexibility, strengthen his core to help support his back, and defuse stress and anxiety. In fact, yoga has become such an important part of his life that he is going after his RYT instructor certification. Admits Kendrick … literally and figuratively, “Yoga gets me out of bed each morning!”
Let us know if you’ve tried yoga and how it’s helped you.