Over the past few years, yoga has been gaining popularity with adults of all ages. A regular practice is a great way to increase strength and flexibility, while also reducing stress. Yoga is easy to modify, making it a versatile choice for older adults, and its relaxing benefits are a perfect way to de-stress during the busy holiday season.
The holiday season tends to be a busy time. Between shopping, cooking, entertaining and going to holiday parties it's easy to get stressed out long before the new year. Incorporating a yoga practice can help you relax and better enjoy your time with family and friends. Yoga comes in many forms and can be easily modified for any body. You don't have to be flexible to practice yoga, and you certainly do not have to be able to stand on your head or perform any of the advanced poses you may have seen online or in magazines.
Breathing and mindful movement lie at the core of any yoga practice. Classes generally begin with slowing down and learning to breathe deeply and steadily. Known as pranayama, this focused breathing can be a yoga practice of its own and part of a relaxing meditation. While practicing yoga postures, the steady breath supports you and gives you strength. Mindfully moving during yoga class teaches you how to connect to your body.
During your first classes, it may be difficult to be mindful of your body. Especially if you are looking around to learn the poses. But after just a few classes, you can begin to relax in the practice and pay attention to how your body feels. Experiencing the sensations in your body is an important part of yoga, because it teaches you how to challenge yourself while respecting your limits to avoid strain or injury.
The same lessons in breathing and mindful movement can be used off your mat as well. When holiday stress is getting to you, deep breaths can help you find your center. If you are racing around and feeling overwhelmed, mindful movements help slow you down and connect you to the moment. Many active adult communities have fitness centers which offer yoga classes. Yoga studios are also found in many cities, suburbs and small towns. There are many different yoga styles, such as Bikram, power yoga or Ashtanga.
For a practice that will work for most people, look for general Hatha classes or those designed for beginners. You can also talk to a teacher at the studio to find out which class would be best for you.