Monday, March 7, 2016

Using Yoga (or Pilates) to Restore Your Health

The article Restorative Yoga Poses articulates with pictures how to restore the body and maintain and improve fitness.

Yoga can be used as an organized way to improve strength, flexibility, balance, psychological relaxation, and a way to age gracefully.

When walking by a yoga class, the first impression is that you have to be really fit to participate and you do not want to make a fool out yourself. The reality is yoga practice is on a continuum and changes according to your level of experience and fitness.

The biggest challenge is walking in the room and participating. Nobody is watching you except the instructor and the practice is an experience not a competition.

A new student will quickly discover how out of shape they truly are and the potential for fitness, weight loss, and stress reduction. I am usually the fattest person in the room and have lost >20 pounds in 2 years. My balance is dramatically improved and twist sufficiently to back the car down the driveway.

The advantage of a class format is that the most unmotivated person’s challenge is only attendance. The fitness workout takes care of itself. The upper body, core strength, flexibility, and lower body strength will automatically improve over time.

I wish I had begun when I was fifty and not waited till Medicare age. This can be a senior citizen’s panacea to chronic pain, equilibrium, balance, and terrible upper body strength. Start with a few restorative classes and easily progress to better health. The spiritual side can be a life-guiding support system and can easily add to the improved physical health.  

For those who do not wish to incorporate a spiritual component within their exercise program, there is the equally restorative Pilates, named after its founder Joseph Pilates.  Pilates training is very available, perhaps even more-so than yoga. All of the benefits noted for yoga apply. While some Pilates exercises require use of devices (the main one called a “reformer,” though it has nothing to do with discipline!), there are also mat Pilates exercises that can be learned online (YouTube), which can easily be performed in one’s living room.

Whichever you choose, Yoga or Pilates, it is wise to take a bit of time each day to pursue one of these, especially as aging advances (which it does!).  These two body-training programs will help keep you sane, flexible (in body anyway), and able to negotiate gravity, which (regardless of its newfound waves) seems always ready to find ways to trip us up.  Be wise, have fun, and pick one of them.

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