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April 27, 2015
As a mid-fifties woman, I bemoaned the increasing loss of my strength and flexibility. I knew what I needed to do, but pulling myself away from my office to spend hours at the gym, exercising and lifting weights just wasn't happening. I really didn't give much though to the idea that yoga could benefit seniors.
My teacher is a thirty-five year yoga practitioner who teaches gentle, injury free yoga for people of all ages. In fact, she told me, one of her students is 88. But I still was skeptical I could get much benefit from a an hour session a week and a few minutes a day on my own. Boy was I wrong.
Learning to breathe properly, stretching out my body length and regaining my flexibility happened right away. The positions are easy to learn and to be honest, if I had known how good I'd feel, I'd have started doing yoga years ago. My husband, a true Montana redneck, started class with me, and he absolutely loves it. I never thought my husband would embrace "Downward Dog", but there he is. The use of supports helps us get into the positions until we can do them without assistance, which alleviates the stress and risk of injury. That's good, because there is no way I'd make it into Lotus pose on my own.
Some older adults are hesitant to try yoga because of it's ties to Hinduism. As a Christian, there is no way I'm ever going to embrace an elephant as a god, let alone any other of the thousands of other gods and goddesses in the Hindu religious system. Fortunately, my teacher understands and respects our beliefs and refusal to participate in anything related to the Hindu religion. By the same token it's the meaning attached to the belief or practice that matters. When I am in proper posture, breathing right, body elongated and open, I feel closer to God Himself. Our bodies are the temple of God here on Earth, and feeling awake and alive, being healthy, honors that.
And we are healthier indeed, in a lot less time as it would take in a gym. I have flexibility I haven't had in years after just a couple sessions. In fact, I had limited use of one shoulder due to an old injury thirty years ago. Now the scar tissue is gone and I have full range of motion.
So if your are in your fifties and older, are tired of feeling stiff, inflexible and weak, give yoga a try. Look for a gentle, beginner's class. You have nothing to lose but your stiff, painful and limited functioning body. Better health awaits you!
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