The ancient art of yoga has long been known for its ability to enhance flexibility, all-round strength and mental health. It’s a form of exercise accessible to all ages and abilities. Today yoga has changed to meet the needs of different cultures and demographics, although essentially the style and types of exercises have remained the same.
The main elements of yoga were developed in India around 5,000 years ago and consist of a range of gestures that focus on the relationship between breathing and physical movement. Although some people say that exercise that promotes health and fitness through a mental as well as physical approach is ineffective, the scientists say otherwise.
Research has shown that regular yoga can be beneficial to those with high blood pressure, depression, stress and heart disease. This type of exercise has been favoured by many different organisations and is used in hospitals, schools, health centres and leisure centres. The safe and gentle nature of the activity has attracted a range of different people.
Who Can Get Involved?
Whilst children as young as five years old can participate, adults over the age of 19 are encouraged, under proper supervision, to try around 150 minutes of yoga per week. Due to the gentle way that the exercises produce flexibility and all-round body strength there is no real upper age limit.
In fact, many over 70s participate in yoga. This is possible due to the wide variety of yoga groups which are open to a range of abilities and levels of experience. Because of the varied nature of these groups, participants can pick and choose what suits them best, only working toward what feels comfortable and achievable.
What Does It Really Do?
One of the key benefits of yoga is that it can improve balance and therefore reduce the risk of falls. For many, this may also be matched by an increase in lower-body strength, particularly in the ankles and knees.
It is, however, worth mentioning that although yoga may reduce the pain and mobility issues associated with arthritis, some of the movements are not suitable for those who suffer with this problem.
This gentle and artistic form of exercise is now popular with all ages, including the less mobile and the elderly. It’s a fun approach to keeping fit and as well as the health benefits it could help to reduce the cost of over 50s life insurance.
However, anyone with arthritis who is keen to get involved should take advice from their GP and if given the all-clear should locate a yoga teacher who is fully qualified. A qualified teacher will be able to change and adapt exercises to suit individual needs and will ensure those with existing problems do not over-do things.
How Can I Get Involved?
Fully qualified yoga teachers can be found in local directories and on the internet. To be sure that the teaching is of the highest standard, look for the British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) accreditation, which is a validation from the Sport England governing body for yoga. Be aware, though, that not all good teachers will have such accreditation since it is not a legal requirement in the UK.
Article by Chris Spann