Yoga to the Rescue
Helping yourself to age gracefully
By Karen Frye
The lights are soft, and the room is warm. Everyone is quietly lying on their yoga mat. The teacher enters the room and announces, “Lights are coming on.” On that note, everyone stands in the middle of their mat. Suddenly you realize that the room is surrounded by mirrors. Oh no! You have to look at yourself for 90 minutes. Painful!
The class begins with a breathing exercise to get more fresh oxygen into the lungs to circulate throughout the body during class. During this “Pranayama” breathing exercise, you notice that your busy mind is beginning to calm down, and a sense of focus and peace is now taking over. This is a form of meditation, an open-eye, moving meditation. You have to listen to the teacher carefully, and move your body correctly (as much as possible) to achieve the benefits from the yoga postures. This process does not include thinking, just looking at yourself and trying. Every class is a beginners class, no matter how long you have been practicing yoga.
Hatha Yoga began thousands of years ago. It is popular all around the world, but had its start in India. Everyone can do yoga. You are never too old, too stiff or too out of shape to start. The comment I hear most often from the people is how they’re “not flexible,” and my reply is, “That is exactly why you need yoga!”
The fascia in our body is like a web of fibers made of collagen and elastin. These fibers are strong and stretchy. The fascia goes from head to toe; it’s what holds us together and upright. As we age, our fascia becomes stiffer and tighter. Working out with weights, running, and just about every physical activity that builds muscle and makes us stronger also tightens the fascia. It can become like beef jerky. When you do yoga, you stretch your muscles and go deeper to stretch the fascia, too.
Keeping the fascia healthy is crucial to aging gracefully. You will also be stimulating and toning your body’s vital organs and glands.
Yoga is one of the best anti-aging things you can do for yourself. Some of the health benefits are: increased sense of well being; boosting the immune system; calming the mind; improving balance and flexibility of mind and body. There are cardio and strength benefits as well. If you choose to do hot yoga — which is my love — the heat promotes sweating, and sweat removes toxins from the body.
We are fortunate in this community to have a variety of yoga studios and wonderful teachers to guide you on this journey, if you choose. The hardest thing about a yoga class is getting yourself there. Give it a chance and you’ll fall in love with how your body and mind feel after you practice. It is a wise investment in your health and a lot of fun, too! PS
Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.