3 Reasons to Practice Yoga in Your 70s — and Beyond
1. Improve balance
Yoga tones muscles and works on your proprioception — your sense of position in space. Practicing postures that emphasize standing and balance can help build strength and confidence, too. "About 80 percent of proprioception is in your ankles, so standing poses are important, particularly for people in their 70s," explains Larry Payne, yoga director at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. "As you get more sedentary, your sense of balance atrophies. 'Use it or lose it' really does apply."
2. Sharpens your mind
Unfortunately, as we age, our thought processes aren't as sharp as they once were. "Focusing on the breath and synchronizing it with movement helps keep the mind clear and engaged," says Melinda Atkins, a yoga teacher in Miami. Breathing exercises such as alternate-nostril breathing help harmonize the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which correlate to the logical and emotional sides of the personality.
3. Boosts mood
Yoga's combination of breathing, meditation and movement creates an overall sense of well-being. In fact, studies show yoga has a greater impact on enhancing mood and reducing anxiety than other forms of exercise. The reason? Yoga boosts levels of the brain chemical GABA, which helps calm nerves.
2 Poses for Your 70s and Beyond
HALF CHAIR AT THE WALL: Stand about 1 foot away from the wall, with your rear touching the wall. Raise your arms forward and up over your head, with your palms facing each other. Bend your knees and squat halfway to the floor. Hold for five breaths, then stand. Repeat.
ALTERNATE-NOSTRIL BREATHING: Put the tips of your right index finger and middle finger between your eyebrows; put your ring and little fingers on the left nostril, and your thumb on the right nostril. Press your thumb on the right nostril and breathe through the left. Then press on the left nostril and breathe through the right. Repeat for five minutes.
Amy Paturel is a freelance writer.
A Pose for Any Age
THE CORPSE POSE
Here's a totally relaxing option everyone can do!
Lie flat on your back, pillow under your head, eyes closed. Allow your feet to splay to the sides. Rest your arms alongside your body, palms facing up. Then relax, surrender to the floor and breathe deeply.