Yoga Is an Excellent Way to Improve Your Health

senior married couple practicing yoga at home

The ancient healing art of yoga has been around for millennia. Yoga began in India as a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices. Today, yoga has gone “mainstream,” used as a practical way to achieve better health and well-being. Health clubs, gyms and employers offer yoga as part of their fitness offerings. According to the American Osteopathic Association, some of the benefits of yoga include:

  • Increased flexibility, muscle strength and tone
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • Maintaining a healthy metabolism and losing weight
  • Improved cardiovascular and circulatory health
  • Reduced risk of injury

Yoga does a body good

According a study published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, eight weeks of intensive yoga practice significantly decreases the severity of physical and psychological symptoms in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Yoga is a great form of exercise and several studies have shown that it may help improve heart health. Investigators from the Netherlands and the United States found that yoga may provide the same benefits in reducing heart disease risk factors – such as high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol – as such traditional physical activities as biking or brisk walking.

Yoga’s positive effects on the mind

In addition to all the great things it does for your body, yoga also is an excellent practice for the mind. As a meditative practice, as well as a physical one, yoga provides many of the benefits of meditation. A study at UCLA discovered that a three-month course of yoga and meditation helped minimize the cognitive issues that often precede Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia – in fact, it was more effective than the memory enhancement exercises in improving visual-spatial memory skills and decreasing depression and anxiety. Another study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston showed that a group of people aged 55-90 who meditated and practiced yoga showed less brain shrinkage, particularly in the hippocampus, than a control group.

Yoga helps increase overall well-being

Yoga has also been shown to reduce stress, which is the underlying cause of many diseases. According to Harvard Health, regular yoga practice appears to increase overall well-being as well, including better sleep, better body awareness, weight loss, and greater happiness. Yoga also appears to improve mindfulness, helping to boost compassion and gratitude, which contribute to greater happiness.

People living with mobility challenges

As we discussed in this post, one of the advantages of yoga is that it can be practiced by people living with mobility challenges. Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise, and is generally easy on the joints. Best of all, yoga can be adapted for those confined to a wheelchair or living with arthritis, making it an ideal form of exercise for just about everyone.

Charlesgate’s commitment to health

As part of our fitness offerings, Charlesgate offers weekly chair yoga classes, in addition to other gentle movement options. We understand the importance of physical activity in aging well and provide options that allow everyone to participate.

Categories: Aging Well