life, suffering, and joy, simply because you've seen more of it. If you haven't practiced yoga before, now is a wonderful time to start.
Aging brings about some undeniable physical changes. As we age, we all lose muscle tissue and bone mass if we don't stay physically active and combat these changes with weight-bearing activities to build muscle and bone. Studies show that bone loss can be reversed through weight-bearing activities like walking (great for hip, leg, knee, ankle, and foot bones and joints); light weight lifting; and of course, yoga poses in which you hold, shift, and manipulate your own body weight.
Internally, you are experiencing changes, too. The great thing about yoga is that it can balance many of these internal changes in ways you might not even expect. Yoga can smooth digestion that becomes less reliable by stimulating and activating the stomach, colon, abdomen, and internal organs. Your blood vessels lose elasticity, but yoga vinyasa and pranayama techniques suffuse your body with oxygen and increase circulation to keep your entire circulatory system limber. As you age, you may find you don't sleep as well or eat as willingly. A regular yoga practice can make sleep sounder and more rejuvenating, and it can help you work up a healthy appetite, too. Yoga helps bolster a suppressed immune system and keeps all your internal organs stimulated and balanced.
Before beginning your yoga practice (or any exercise program), consult your primary care physician, who will want to follow your progress and coordinate care with your yoga instructor. Many great yoga classes are available now for seniors, which means that poses are adapted and designed to help with the specific concerns and needs of mature yogis. Ask at your local YMCA, holistic health center, health club, or senior center. You'll be surprised at how many seniors are already doing yoga!
One of the biggest concerns of people as they age is memory loss. The fear of Alzheimer's disease is widespread, and even simple forgetfulness (where did you put those car keys?) can strike fear into the heart of anybody over 40. As you age, you may have more trouble concentrating and remembering, but much of this is due to stress or the result of simple neglect. When it comes to your brain, it's "use it or lose it." Yoga offers some great ways to use that brain. Balance poses and meditation in particular keep the mind focused, clear, and as limber as a pair of legs folded into the lotus pose.
A Yoga Minute
Deficiencies of vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid can aggravate or even imitate symptoms of memory loss, Alzheimer's disease, and other forms of senile dementia. Get enough of all three through vitamin supplements and/or food sources such as spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bananas, carrots, liver, salmon, leafy greens, asparagus, oranges, orange juice, and fortified breakfast cereals. The herb ginkgo biloba has also been shown to improve blood flow to the brain and could combat age-associated memory loss. Ask your doctor about it.
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