Attempts to look younger usually focus on skin tone, wrinkles and obvious evidence of aging above the neck, and perhaps the sight of sagging skin under the arms. But no matter how good we look in the mirror, once we start to move, our secret is out, because the most obvious signs of aging are not evident until we begin to move around. A shuffle in the step, a hunch in the shoulders or a slouched posture can give away the secrets that no night cream can address.
This month, consider trying a yoga class to shake off that stiffness and get some spring back in your step. There are many levels and versions of yoga, and they don’t all involve full body inversions, challenging balancing poses and impossible pretzel-like body twists. There are hot- and power yoga classes for those so inclined, but many seniors organizations are promoting yoga practise as a way to increase flexibility, improve balance and ward off joint pain – and those are just the physical benefits.
Low-impact poses in introductory classes have been shown to loosen that joint stiffness and build supporting muscles, helping to prevent injuries. Weight-bearing yoga poses have also been shown to slow bone thinning among postmenopausal women.
Yoga is also known to reduce high blood pressure, which not only contributes to cardiovascular disease but is also one of the leading causes of kidney disease. It can also reduce the dependency on medication to address hypertension. Research indicates that yoga practise that incorporates postures, meditation, and breathing can lead to significant reductions in blood pressure.
With its focus on breathing and relaxation, the appropriate yoga practise can calm your mind and relax your body, reducing anxiety. It encourages participants to relax and listen to their bodies. The meditative aspects of yoga encourage mindfulness, or living in the moment. Classes often begin with a peaceful relaxation period designed to quiet the mind in preparation for a disciplined series of moves requiring full concentration.
There are several local yoga classes available for all levels of practise. Community Care offers mat and armchair yoga classes at St. Thomas Anglican Church as well as the Millbrook Manor designed to help seniors build strength and balance and avoid injuries. Full details are found in the Community Events section on page 16. For more strenuous workouts, Wendy Gerolamy offers a variety of yoga classes at her spacious, private studio on Tapely ¼ Line in Fraserville. Chose from different levels of traditional Hatha yoga classes, Chinese based Taoist Yoga or a Restorative class. The fall schedule begins the week of September 19th and new students get their first class free. For more information about Wendy Gerolamy’s classes, visit www.hartyoga.ca.
Yoga Month began as an awareness campaign and national observance to promote the health benefits of yoga and inspire a healthy lifestyle. September is a perfect month to start a healthy lifestyle after an indulgent, holiday-filled summer. So find a quiet spot, do some slow breathing or try a Sun Salutation –maybe even take it outside – and see how much better you can look and feel. KG