Yoga is a great way to increase your flexibility, better your balance, and strengthen your core. You don’t need to get all twisted up like a pretzel to enjoy the benefits of some of the more effective yoga poses, either. Practicing simple poses such as the ones below three to four times a week can greatly benefit your health and well-being as you age.
Holding Tree Pose for up to one minute on each side will stretch your thighs, groin, torso, and shoulders, as well as build strength in your ankles and bring about a calm focus. To begin:
- Stand on your yoga mat with your hands at your sides and your feet together. This is called Mountain Pose, and it assists in balance and concentration.
- Slowly shift your weight to your left foot and begin to bend and raise your right knee.
- Reaching down, clasp your right inner ankle and draw your foot up your left leg, resting either above or below your left knee (never directly on your knee joint).
- Turn your right knee out and align your hips.
- Begin with your palms pressed together in prayer position at your chest, and then slowly extend them overhead, fingertips to the sky and palms facing each other.
If you need initial assistance with balancing, lean against a wall or steady yourself by holding on to a chair while doing this pose.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Downward Dog is one of the most well-known yoga poses, and one of the most beneficial, promoting joint health, strength, and flexibility. This pose also helps to relieve migraines, energize the body, and destress and sharpen the mind by enabling more blood flow to the brain.
To assume the downward-facing dog pose:
- Begin on your hands and knees in Table Pose.
- Tuck your toes in.
- Lift your hips. Your hips should go up and back with your hands still on your mat, forming your body into a triangle.
If you have wrist issues, you can adjust this pose to use your forearms instead. Hold this pose for as long as feels comfortable.
Holding Cobra Pose for 15 to 30 seconds stretches your shoulder and abdomen muscles to keep your body flexible, strengthens your spine to fight against hunching and poor posture, and elevates your mood. The steps are simple:
- Lay stomach-down on your yoga mat.
- Place your palms down and bend your elbows on either side of your shoulders. Your chin should be resting on the mat staring straight ahead, and your legs and feet should be straight out and pointed behind you.
- Slowly straighten your arms out, lifting your chest off the ground and engaging your abdominal muscles while gazing upward.
Bound Angle Pose
Often referred to as Butterfly Pose, the Bound Angle Pose is a meditative pose that you can do while seated on your mat:
- Sit with your spine and back straight with the bottoms of your feet pressed together and your hands resting on your ankles.
- Let your knees fall to either side as you lengthen your spine and extend your torso as tall as you can.
- Pressing your heels together, extend your thighs toward the ground and focus on inhaling and exhaling deeply.
Make this pose more challenging by slowly pulling your chin down toward your toes. Hold this pose for several breaths or up to five minutes. Bound Angle Pose is therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, anxiety, and stress. Increased blood flow triggered by practicing this pose also improves circulation and stimulates the heart.
It’s never too late to start yoga practice, whether it’s from the comfort of your own home or in a group class offered by your local gym or community center. Yoga can help you to strengthen your body and improve your balance, which in turn can prevent accidents such as falling — keeping you mobile and flexible. Yoga is also an excellent way to help speed along recovery after illness or injury, manage stress, regulate digestion, and improve sleep quality. It can even help reduce arthritis pain and improve joint range of motion. Remember to always discuss with your doctor if you have any preexisting medical conditions before you begin a new exercise regimen, including yoga.