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At right: Bonny Branch is one of the
region's top yoga instructors.
Two popular forms of yoga among
Baby Boomers are chair yoga and pool
yoga. Says Austin, " Chair yoga is for all
levels, all ages. It can be seated and
standing, and it helps increase balance,
flexibility, and strength, which we tend
to lose as we age. The twist poses we do
help to aid in digestion but also hydrates
the discs of the spine, which is what
helps us keep our height as we age. Every
movement, every pose and even the
stillness we find in meditation has a list
of benefits. Each individual and stage of
life needs something different. "
Yoga, says Austin, " is a practice that is
specifically tailored to the person who
does it. Throughout life we run across all
types of injuries, disease, or illnesses that
yoga can provide benefits for in the body.
Yoga is the antidote to the stiffness that
settles into the body with the passage of
time. "
Branch adds, " Yoga is not a not
Bonny Branch has been one of the
region's most popular and well-known
yoga instructors for years and operates
Bonny Branch Movement Arts, whose goal
is exactly what the name implies: to get
you to move. Especially as you age. " One
does yoga to get better at life, " she says.
" Through the practice of meditation,
yoga poses, awareness of the transitions
between poses, and awareness of our
breath, we increase our physical, mental,
and emotional strength, endurance,
balance and flexibility. "
Yoga, she insists, is more than posing.
" With slight adjustments, or variations to
poses, or trying different styles yoga can
serve all practitioners. But yoga is more
than just the physical poses. It includes
breathing practices and meditation.
The sister life science, Ayurveda, gets
into diet, herbs, daily routines and your
body's constitution, among other things. "
a cure-all, nor is it a substitute for
medical treatment. And should never
be approached as a competition to the
student next to you. If you've just had a
surgical procedure, have persistent joint
pain, or grave injury, or are pregnant,
take the time to let your body heal, and
always, always get clearance from your
doctor before you get back on the mat.
" Know the limitations of your current
physical shape. There is no shame at all
in starting slow and allowing yourself the
patience to really let yoga work for you.
You will start seeing results a lot quicker
than you might think. "
There are poses to benefit people with
chronic conditions such as hypertension,
Parkinson's and osteoporosis, says
Austin, but there are also poses to be
avoided if they don't fit the individual.
Hot yoga, for example, is rarely suitable
for the aged.
Branch says, " Do not force yourself
into doing things that your body cannot
comfortably handle. There is always
an alternative way to achieve your
goals in yoga. As we age, it is common
that our muscles become weaker, our
joints become less flexible, and we may
The Benefits of Yoga
Yoga instructor Bonny Branch lists
the reasons yoga can work for you:
* Helps improve sex life, sleep,
back pain, arthritis symptoms,
weight loss
* Increases coordination and the
ability to balance
* Increases flexibility and range
of motion.
* Increases strength
* Calms the mind, helps you
focus, and decreases stress
* Improves breath capacity
* Lowers stress and increases
energy levels
* Helps prevent pulmonary
issues like pneumonia
* Improves energy and
brightens moods
* Builds confidence
* Enhances productivity
* Strengthens the mind
* Improves heart health
experience more broken bones due to low
bone density. Yoga can help with all these
issues and can be adapted to the needs
of the individual. "
Austin says that " if you can breathe,
you can do yoga ... While most come
to a yoga practice to move through the
poses and open their stiff bodies, they
also find the benefits of breathing well
and meditation to be helpful. Yoga is a
transformative practice if you let it be. "
Branch says that " Yoga classes for
seniors may include everything from
gentle stretches and restorative poses
to normal activities in regular yoga
classes. I might recommend starting
with a beginner basic yoga class, that
might be called hatha yoga, gentle yoga,
" If you can breathe, you can do yoga. " ERICA AUSTIN
RETIRE-VA 2022 / / 23

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