By: Jessica Lime, Ageility Fitness Trainer
Yoga is a natural medicine used from ancient times to help us heal our mind, body and soul. Within today’s busy society focusing on yoga and meditation helps put one’s body at ease to focus on calming the nervous system, reduce stress, increase flexibility and so much more. These are your golden years to focus on your mind, body and soul that have been put to work for years. Repay yourself with the medicine of yoga and all its benefits.
Yoga increases flexibility by moving the body through various motions focusing on breathing mechanics allowing one to enhance their natural physiological action2. Within skeletal movements an agonist is the one contracting causing your bone to move. However, with every yin there is a yang. The antagonist must relax and lengthen to allow movement. The continuous amounts of stretching over a period of time will allow the muscles to become more pliable and flexible, increasing movement patterns within joints2. This will increase an athlete’s performance and overall health.
The practice of mediation or dhyana in yoga helps create mental stillness allowing an individual to be at peace with their mind, body and soul1. Creating unity within ourselves is called advaita. There are several different ways to mediate in yoga such as visualizing, gazing, breathing, or physical sensations (hot/cold temperatures)1.
Visualizing requires one to visualize a peaceful object or channel such as a god or goddess, flower or a particular chakra (energy center)1. Gazing is a different aspect of imagery, having an open-eye focus on an object such as an opinion, view or gaze. For example, focusing on a flower, candle flame or painting1. This is performed with both eyes open or one eye closed. Breathing in mediation is performed by focusing on the rise and fall of one’s chest, breathing in your nose and out of your mouth1. Physical sensation is similar to focusing deeply on breathing however it is redirected to a sensation such as the temperature of your lips or nose, strengthening in your spine, even observing an emotion1.
With the numerous types of yoga styles your body can be affected in different aspects. Yoga helps the body develop mental awareness and being present with their mind, body and soul3. Yoga can ease stress, anxiety and tension. Practicing mindfulness can spread all the way to the kitchen table, eating without judgment. Instead focus your senses, for example:
- Eating until you’re full.
- Being aware of the smell, taste or benefit of the food.
- Recognizing if you’re eating out of emotion.
This mindset of hunger cues and fullness can enhance weight loss and boost energy levels3. Yoga can benefit cardiovascular health as well to help lower blood pressure.
1Carrico, M. “A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation.” Yoga Journal, 2017.
2Ruiz, F. (2018). What Every Yogi Needs to Know About Flexibility. Yoga Journal.
3Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat. (2015). Havard Health Publishing.
49 Benefits of Yoga for Older Adults. (2020). Cantissimo Senior Living.