Yoga is an excellent way to keep your body feeling young and healthy. Daily practice strengthens muscles, improves circulation and increases flexibility. The breathing exercises associated with yoga are deeply meditative and reduce stress. Even brief, five-minute sessions are enough to make a positive impact and reduce age-related aches and pains.
Here are five yoga poses that can help conquer the struggles associated with getting older.
1. Child’s pose
Child’s pose is an excellent way to reduce stress, one of the most common causes of age-related decline.
To perform this pose, sit down on your knees and stretch yourself forward with your head touching the ground. Knees can either be together or wider apart. Arms can rest alongside the body or remain stretched out in front. Focus on breathing. Breathe deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
2. Tree pose
As people age, maintaining balance grows more and more difficult. Tree pose is a non-strenuous posture that can help refine balance.
To perform this pose, stand up and shift most of your body weight onto the left foot and leg. Raise your hands in a prayer position in front of the chest. Next, gradually lift your right leg to rest against your upper inner left thigh. Make sure your toes are pointing to the floor. If necessary, use your hands to guide your foot into the proper position.
Once you have accomplished these first steps, gently draw back your right knee with your right hand to open your hips. Fixate on an unmoving point ahead of you. Take a few breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Squats build thigh muscles, protecting the knees from future pain and injury.
To perform squats, stand up with your feet together and arms at your sides. While still keeping your knees and feet together, sit back as though preparing to sit down in a chair. At the same time, extend your arms straight in front of you to keep balance.
Do not push yourself beyond your comfort or abilities, but challenge yourself little by little. To protect the knees, make sure they’re behind the toes and not moving forward.
4. Downward dog
Downward dog is a classic yoga pose for a reason. This posture improves upper-body strength, promotes a healthy spine and stretches back muscles.
To perform this pose, begin on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Your feet should be about a hip-width apart. Your fingers, meanwhile, should be spread wide with middle fingers pointing forward.
Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Extend your pelvis toward the ceiling then gently begin to straighten your legs without locking your knees. Your body should be in the shape of an “A.” Press against the floor as though you were pushing it away from you. Hold this position and breathe.
5. Seated twist
Seated twist is yet another yoga pose that promotes a healthy spine. It can also relieve sore and tight back muscles.
First, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your spine upright. Inhale and sit up as straight as possible. As you exhale, twist gently to the right. Place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind you for balance. Move your head last and be careful not to strain your neck. Hold this position and breathe before repeating on the left side.
Yoga isn’t exactly the fountain of youth, but it can make a real impact on your body as you grow older. Beginners should consider signing up for a yoga class or even watching a short YouTube video to hone their skills. Their future selves will likely appreciate it.
Sovereign Mental Health Services is a residential rehabilitation facility that offers high-quality and comprehensive care for individuals suffering from substance addiction and co-occurring mental illnesses. Patients at Sovereign receive individualized treatment plans and access to luxurious amenities. We also offer classes on yoga, meditation and healthy living. For more information, please contact 866-954-0529. For more information on healthy aging, look for more blogs in this series.
Written by Courtney Lopresti, M.S. neuroscience, Sovereign Health Group writer