My days as an athlete are behind me — for the most part, at least. I can still swing a mean whiffle ball bat in the backyard, but overall, I look for kinder, gentler ways to exercise these days. When I discovered yoga, it was a game-changer. There are countless reasons why I love my yoga practice (for starters, I can do it in my living room!), but these are six of the most important that I want to share:
1. I’m less stressed.
Striking a yoga pose reduces my anxiety almost instantly. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. A yoga session can also:
Decrease tension (especially in your back and neck)
Lower your blood pressure
Lower your heart rate
Ease a variety of respiratory issues
That’s right: Yoga can literally help you breathe easy! These powerful benefits, such as more manageable blood pressure, can also combat hypertension. Since I’ve started my practice, my upper back feels relaxed for the first time in a decade, and I’m taking fewer pills every day, too.
2. I sleep better.
The older I get, the less sleep I seem to get — no matter how late I go to bed. Once I started doing yoga on a regular basis, however, I started snoozing like one of my grandkids. I’m not only sleeping for more hours most nights, but I’m getting higher quality sleep, too.
3. I’m in a better mood.
Maybe it’s the extra rest I’m getting; maybe it’s the potent combo of movement and mindfulness. No matter what the cause, since beginning yoga, my mental health has improved. I still feel blue from time to time, of course, but those times are fewer and farther in between.
4. My bones are stronger.
Decreased bone density and mass are just two of the many “perks” of growing older. Brittle bones and osteoporosis have always been concerns for me, so when I learned that yoga can help stave off their onset, I couldn’t buy a cute yoga mat fast enough.
5. I move faster and easier.
Before I started yoga, getting down on the floor to play with my grandkids felt like moving a mountain — a loudly groaning mountain that couldn’t remember when she suddenly got so inflexible and achy. After just a couple of weeks of regular yoga sessions, I started feeling more limber.
It makes sense. Yoga poses focus on precise, mindful movements and involve a whole lot of stretching. The more often I break out my mat, the easier moving gets. The easier moving gets, the more flexible I become. The more flexible I become, the better my balance gets. All of which leads to perhaps the biggest yoga benefit of them all…
6. I’m in less pain.
As we age, a sedentary lifestyle is a one-way ticket to Aches and Painsville. I recognized that if I wanted to feel as young and vital in my body as I do in my mind (most of the time, at least!), I need to get moving. Since I’ve started incorporating beginners yoga into my weekly routine, I’ve experienced a very noticeable decrease in those creaky joints and achy muscles that I thought I was just supposed to deal with as I get older.
As it turns out, I absolutely did not have to put up with any of those pesky pains! Regular yoga practice means I’m moving more, I’m moving more easily, and I’m worrying less about staying independent as I get older. You know what they say: Move it or lose it.
If you think you’re too old, inflexible or conservative for yoga, think again. Whether you take a beginners class at your local gym or ease into a video series from the comfort of your home, starting a yoga practice can lead to a host of health benefits for your body, mind and soul.