MG Guest Blogger Rachel Goldberg is a certified Yoga Instructor and Yoga Therapist. She currently practices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but she sat down with us to tell us why yoga is a great form of exercise that will help you stay young. Anyone, any age can do yoga! People often think that yoga is only for the young or the extremely flexible, but with the use of props, yoga is available to people of all different ages and body types. Blocks, blankets, a wall, or chairs are commonly used in yoga practices to give you an extra boost and help enhance your own abilities. Chair yoga makes most yoga poses more accessible for those unable to practice on the floor and has all the benefits of a traditional yoga practice. Chair Yoga is not just for seniors! It’s also helpful for people with MS, Cerebral Palsy, arthritis, and other seemingly-limiting disorders. It’s never too late to begin a practice! Here are some of yoga’s positive and friendly benefits:
- Helps keep the body young. In yoga philosophy, your age is told not by numbers but by the flexibility of your spine. The yoga practice helps maintain a healthy spine by lubricating discs, keeping length in the vertebral column, strengthening the muscles along the spine, and calling awareness to posture. Many cases of “hunchback” can be prevented by a yoga practice.
- Supports and strengthens respiratory function. The key to yoga practice is following, listening to, and being aware of the breath. Exercise is the largest factor in stalling the aging process as it relates to lungs, muscles & bones, and the cardiovascular system. Paying attention to the breath allows one to exercise smarter and for longer periods of time. Many yoga breathing practices aim to strengthen and expand the lungs and lung capacity.
- Aids with balance. The aging process has a tendency to bring hearing and vision losses along with it. These two impediments can throw off an individual’s equilibrium and therefore, throw off balance, putting one at risk for falls. Although yoga will not restore hearing or sight fully, balancing poses in yoga can help restore the equilibrium. The use of a wall will help prevent injuries while practicing balance poses.
- Increases or maintains bone density. The aging process causes a loss of both bone mass and density. The idea of “use it or lose it” comes into play with bone density: the less stress put on bones, the quicker bone density loss occurs. Yoga is a safe and efficient way of responsibly stressing the muscles and bones. Even the most gentle yoga practice will help slow the loss of bone density.
- Keeps mental performance strong. Memory loss is a clear sign of aging. One way to slow this process is by engaging in new activities or hobbies that make you think and pay attention frequently. Most forms of exercise are done repetitively without thought; the yoga practice engages the mind by requiring constant attention to the breath and alignment.
Rachel Goldberg studied at YogaLife Institute in Devon, Pennsylvania, accumulating 500 hours of Classical Hatha Yoga and Yoga Therapy.