Friday, February 18, 2011

Healthy Aging and Yoga: Why You Don't Have To Be A Contortionist To Benefit From Yoga

You've seen the men and women in impossible body contortions on the cover of magazines, on TV and on the Internet. Yoga postures that look like something out of the circus rather than a means for everyday people to strengthen their bodies and calm their minds.

The truth is that the 5,000 year-old practice of yoga has nothing to do with being a "poser." Yoga is a personalized approach to finding and maintaining health and acceptance for people of all ages, abilities and beliefs.

Just ask "First Lady of Yoga" Lilias Folan, a 74 year-old yoga teacher, author and expert on healthy aging. For decades, Lilias has been bringing yoga to millions of people; first with her TV show "Lilias!" and then through her book, videos and CDs that include the popular series "Lilias! Yoga Gets Better With Age."

"Nothing softens the aging process like yoga," Lilias says. Especially for seniors, Lilias recommends yoga geared toward simple, weight-bearing postures to keep backs, legs and hips strong.
"Age gets better with yoga and yoga gets better with age," Lilias says. "At 65 you can see dramatic results, even in your very first yoga class."

Keeping your yoga practice soft, simple and satisfying is the key.

To get you started, try this easy posture aligning exercise from "Lilias! Yoga Gets Better With Age."

The Sacred Mountain Posture
This simple posture strengthens the legs, straightens the spine 
and focuses and relaxes the mind

  • Remove shoes and sock and stand tall with your big toes touching or your feet hip-width apart. Keep knees straight but not locked.
  • Align your torso by gently pointing your tailbone downward and pull your navel toward your spine by engaging your core muscles.
  • Pull your shoulders down your back and lift your heart.
  • Place the palms of your hands together at your heart then nestle the knuckles of your thumbs into the indentation in your breastbone (called the "lake of tranquility").
  • Soften your eyes and slightly bow your head.
  • Breathe evenly in and out through your nose for 1 to 2 minutes.

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