Yoga helps keep seniors flexible and strong
As we age, our bodies lose strength and flexibility, but we can regain them both by practicing skills learned in various classes such as yoga, Pilates and weight training.
One class I am an advocate of is Yoga Gold and I strongly endorse it for several reasons.
Seniors may have several chronic problems related to injuries/disorders from the past. We need to be able to focus our wellness/fitness programs to specific areas of the body. Yoga Gold gives us unique yoga poses designed to accomplish that goal.
The Yoga Gold class is my way of making sure that I move my body from head to toe. I'm able to explore my limits both physical and mental. It is very encouraging to be able to monitor physical benefits such as increased flexibility, muscular strength and tone; improved breathing, cardio and circulatory health; and mental benefits such as improved stress management, meditation, and breathing.
Learning is fun and ongoing in the Yoga Gold class. In the class, each person has a chair for the purpose of support/balance.
It is very important that each senior is mindful of balance at all times, remembering to maintain balance by holding onto the chair no matter where you are in the routine.
Here are some examples of poses from Yoga Gold:
This strengthens the toes and arches. To exercise the toes and the arches of the feet, start by sitting with feet approximately 1 fist apart.
Begin by lifting all of the toes up toward the ankle while keeping the rest of the foot on the mat. Repeat 100 times.
Then start lifting one toe at a time, from big toe to small toe. Repeat 100 times. Then switch and lift from small toe to big toe. Repeat 100 times.
Finally, put a small towel under your feet. Grasp the towel with your toes and release. Repeat 100 times.
Seated in chair, place palms face up on your thighs. Imagine a pencil extending from your chin.
With your imaginary chin pencil, draw big circles from right to left. Inhale, bringing your heart and chest forward; exhale and bring your heart and chest back. Round your back slightly and complete circle. Repeat 10 times. Reverse, and circle from left to right. Repeat 10 times.
Side angle pose/triangle
For side angle pose, take a wide stance at least 4 feet apart. Extend the arms straight out to the side, palms face down.
Pivot on your right foot, turning it 90 degrees out to the side. Bend the right knee until the back of your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Your spine remains straight and your face, body and hips are still facing front.
Move both arms at the same time, keeping the torso stable and spine straight. Turn the palms forward and reach down with the right arm, while equally and simultaneously reaching up with the left, placing the elbow in front of the right knee and touching the tips of your fingertips to the floor, as you're able, between the big toe and the second toe of your right foot.
There should not be any weight or pressure on the fingers; you are just barely touching the floor or your fingers are hovering above the floor. Your weight is on your bent leg. Push gently backward on the knee with the elbow to open up the right hip.
Turn your head and look up. Move your chin to touch your left shoulder so that the profile of your face becomes visible in the mirror in front of you. Your left arm, still straight and still in line with the right one, is now pointing up at the ceiling. Reach even higher with the left arm and fingers. Stay here for 20 seconds. Breathe!
To come out of side angle pose, move your arms back to parallel as you straighten the bent leg and come back to your wide stance. Turn the right foot back in so it's facing straight ahead once more. Keep those arms up.
Now turn your left foot out, bending your left knee and create the pose on the other side. Remember, one side is always going to be easier. Repeat the posture, first the right leg, then the left leg.
Another similar pose is triangle, in which the front leg stays straight instead of bending.
Side angle and triangle poses improve every single bone, muscle, joint, tendon and internal organ, and revitalize nerves, veins and tissues.
These poses increase strength and flexibility in the hips as well and tone the muscles on the side of your torso, including the oblique muscle. These poses can help alleviate crooked spines, as well as rheumatism and lower back pain. It also benefits the heart and lungs, forcing them to work together.
• Patricia Fuller of Naperville is a SilverSneakers Swanson Award Finalist/ 2019 originally from Galveston, Texas. She can be reached at Pfuller22@gmail.com.