Years ago, I did yoga weekly, at a local yoga studio, but it was such a hassle getting there in rush hour traffic. So, I started going less and less, always finding a good excuse to skip the session.
About a year later, I started to feel pretty crappy. I was having difficulty sleeping and was irritable. My days seemed somewhat stressful and I was feeling rather sad. I thought it was aging. When my doctor told me I was fine, I knew my body was trying to tell me something.
I had to make a change, so I decided to get back into gentle yoga.
To keep it simple I did yoga at home with an on-line yoga video. I enjoyed the on-line class and did it again the following day, and then a few days after that. I was enjoying the freedom of doing yoga whenever I wanted, and surprisingly, I was feeling good. I was upbeat and happier. I was handling problems with ease, not bothered by the small things that had been irritating me.
Was it the yoga?
I did some research and found two things that were responsible: one was the yoga breathing technique, and the second was the effect of mindfulness.
Yoga or Ujjayi breathing involves deep inhalations and slow exhalations controlled by a narrowing of the throat passage and repeated through the yoga session. It is often called “ocean breath” as the out-breath produces a wave-like sound. Many researchers have found this breathing reduces stress and helps strengthen our mind-body connection.
Mindfulness is living in the moment. We are mindful when we focus on the present and on our physical and mental selves. During yoga, we are in a mindfulness state, as our attention is on our breathing and how we are feeling as we move through the yoga positions.
Being mindful, according to scientists, has both emotional and physical benefits, in addition to stress relief, increased patience, and a more positive attitude.
Yoga was taking, on a whole, a new meaning in my life. Not only was I feeling so much better, many aspects of my life were improving.
Here are 5 unexpected benefits that I have experienced from yoga. I hope my experience encourages you to consider looking into this more deeply.
I was able to better focus and had more control of my thoughts. This enhanced mental control helped me understand with more clarity. I was making better decisions, as I was more aware of my options and analyzing them in a more focused way. Yoga strengthened my mind.
I was becoming much more flexible and agile. My posture was improving and my hips weren’t painful as before. My body was balanced and getting stronger. I felt my walk was more relaxed and natural without the hip pain. At 61 I’m no spring chicken, but I think I now have a spring in my step!
I seem to be better able to control my emotions. I’m more relaxed and calm. I’m enjoying the moment and not constantly worrying about “what ifs.” Sure, things can still be stressful, but now I can handle them in stride by doing what I can, and not worrying about what I can’t do.
I find myself using Ujjayi breathing to relax through any stress, as I think happy thoughts and smile it all away. And this works!
I’m more positive with how I see myself. Sure there are things I don’t like, but that’s okay, as there is a lot of good in me too. I’m proud of where I am in my life. If people want to judge me, well that’s their prerogative, but I’m not going to worry about this anymore.
I’m sleeping through the night more than I was before. And, because I’m sleeping better, I’m feeling refreshed when I wake up and less fatigued during the day. I’ve even eliminated that mid-afternoon nap. That’s when I’m rolling out my yoga mat…
Yoga has improved my overall quality of life. The yoga positions, along with the special breathing and the state of mindfulness during the practice, have helped me become mentally and physically stronger. I feel more in control, I have more confidence, and it feels good. Yoga has helped me focus my thoughts so I can better analyze my options, assess my abilities and understand the consequences of my choices. I can see myself as I am, and I do like what I see.
Wow, did yoga really do all that? Absolutely, so roll out your yoga mat and start feeling terrific too!
Have you tried gentle yoga? What was your experience? Have you also experienced any of the benefits of yoga mentioned in this article? Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the conversation going.
Tags Yoga for Seniors