You do not need to be a young, nimble gymnast to participate in a yoga class. A lot of people worry they are too out of shape or too old to do yoga. However, you are never too old to improve flexibility and strength and yoga is a wonderful tool to increase both.
Strengthen Your Core
Asanas are a series of yoga poses that stretch your muscles. These poses are designed to increase joint lubrication which in turn increases your range of motion in the joints. Along with lubricating the joints, the stretches warm up muscles which can also release lactic acid build up that cause stiffness and pain. As you continue to practice the asanas, your increased range of motion will allow you to perform the asanas more precisely for continued flexibility and strength.
Yoga stretches not only work your muscles and joints, but all of the soft tissues of your body including ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheath that surround your muscles. And no matter your level of yoga, improvements in these areas will begin in around 8 weeks or less.
Ashtanga or Power yoga are more vigorous than Hatha or Iyengar. Ashtanga will improve muscle tone, while Iyengar or Hatha improves strength and endurance because although there is less movement, you hold the poses precisely and for a longer period of time.
Poses such as downward dog, upward dog, and the plank pose, build upper body strength. This is very important as we all age. The standing poses build strength in the hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles. Poses that strengthen the lower back include upward dog and the chair pose. Nearly all yoga poses increase strength in the core of your body.
Improve Your Lung Capacity
Although yoga is not typically performed as an aerobic activity, lung capacity also improves because of the mindful, deep breathing throughout the excercises. Concentrating on your breath is a practice that brings oxygen into your lunges and into your muscles. Along with oxygenating your body, it also induces a relaxation response to reduce adrenaline. Breathing deeply also improves oxygen flow to the brain which adds clarity of thought along with a sense of calm. Recently, researchers have begun exploring the effects of yoga on depression, a common problem with the elderly.
Lower Blood Pressure
Yoga also lowers blood pressure and slows the heart rate, which in turn has a positive effect on heart disease and stroke. Yoga can be a key treatment in significantly reducing heart disease and levels of cholesterol when combined with proper diet, a much better alternative to surgery.
Thirty minutes a day of stretching and strengthening asana poses will increase flexibility and strength significantly and is the recommended amount of exercise according to AARP. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, but make sure you start one to slow the aging process.
You Can Practice Anywhere
Yoga is an activity you can practice in your own home, or where ever you happen to travel. All you need is a yoga mat or soft towel to practice. In case you injure your self practicing, make sure you have proper health care coverage through a company that will help you locate a qualified doctor no matter where you are.
Look how yoga was able to help this gentleman gain control of his life: