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Age Doesn't Matter for Yoga

More than ever before, Americans older than age 65 are turning to yoga for exercise. What is yoga, and why is it so popular? Yoga is a series of stretches and poses done with breathing techniques. It offers the powerful benefits of exercise. And since yoga is gentle, almost anyone can do it, regardless of age or fitness level.

Yoga's benefits

Yoga can make you stronger and more flexible. It's a great way to stay limber and energetic. You'll also feel more focused and alert. And yoga can help you feel great and function better in your daily life.

Yoga can also help improve these conditions:

  • Poor blood circulation

  • High blood pressure

  • Arthritis

  • Osteoporosis

  • Limited mobility

  • Lower back pain

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Headaches

  • Tension or stress

  • Depression

Yoga's gentle movements are a big reason for its popularity. Yoga is good for people who haven't been active or have certain health conditions, such as arthritis or osteoporosis. Exercises can be adapted to fit the needs of the individual. But if you're fit and want a challenging workout, yoga offers that as well. Yoga is also a great way to supplement cardiovascular fitness activities, such as dancing, walking, or swimming. As you become more flexible with yoga, it's easier to do other kinds of exercise.

How often do I need to do yoga?

The number of times a week you do yoga will depend on your health, your doctor's recommendations, and your own fitness goals. Many people in their 70s and 80s benefit from just taking one class a week, even without practicing at home.

How to get started

Talk with your doctor before you begin yoga or any other kind of exercise. It's a good idea to take a class with an experienced teacher. Let the teacher know about any health conditions you may have, such as high blood pressure or arthritis. A good teacher will know which exercises are best for you.

Finding a class

Yoga Journal's Yoga Teacher's Directory, http://www.yogajournal.com keeps regional and national lists of yoga teachers and associations.

Online Resources

National Center for Complemntary and Alternative Medicine  http://nccam.nih.gov/health/yoga/
AARP  http://www.aarp.org/health/alternative-medicine/info-06-2009/older_adults_increasingly_turn_to_yoga_for_health.html
The American Yoga Association  http://www.americanyogaassociation.org
Yoga Journal  http://www.yogajournal.com/
Yoga Journal  http://www.yogajournal.com/health/1634

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