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Senior Yoga: How it Exercises the Body and Mind

There is little doubt that working out is beneficial.  Health professionals recommend that almost everyone exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day at least three days per week. Yet, some people assume individuals in wheel chairs can no longer participate; this is not the case.  Elderly people, especially those restricted to a sitting position, greatly benefit from movement. Chair exercises enhance balance, lend to a stronger body, boost metabolism, encourage mental alertness, build muscle strength, expand range of motion, improve circulation, and even decrease pain.  In short, exercise brings power to the body and mind.

One particularly beneficial form of exercise is yoga. Yoga is an ancient practice, and chair yoga modifies yoga positions to be gentler yet still effective.  The following yoga concepts are stressed:

  1. Proper breathing.  Breathing is extremely important.  Slow, deep breaths (in through the nose and out through the nose) are fundamental.  Once yoga breathing is mastered, it is very relaxing and thought to promote healing.
  2. Frame of mind.  We control our thoughts.  If we think negatively, we will feel negative.  If we think positively, we will feel positive.  Yoga highlights a positive mind frame.
  3. Movement.  Certain movements are meant to support targeted organs.  For example, moving the head in a round or circular motion is believed to stimulate the liver and stomach.
  4. Spirituality.  Spirituality does not mean religion; both religious and nonreligious individuals greatly benefit from yoga.  Yoga helps people become more at peace with their surroundings. Some persons have even realized lower blood pressure simply by practicing yoga.

A chair yoga class (or tape) might begin with five minutes of soothing music and consistent, regulated breathing.  Gentle movements then comprise the physical piece.  Actions such as finger and/or toe rotation, joint exercising, face or temple pressure, feet tapping, arm or torso stretching, might take place.  The end results?  A more optimistic outlook and stronger body!

NOTE:  Never begin an exercise program without doctor approval, and always be mindful of your or your loved one’s individual limitations.  Now relax and begin!

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