At the time I found yoga, my pulmonary function was at 36%, my Psoriatic arthritis wasn’t too bad, but my fibromyalgia and Raynaud’s were making life difficult. Shortly after starting yoga, using a book I found in a bookstore, I noticed quite an improvement in the Raynaud’s; I assumed due to the increased circulation. After nine months, a recheck of my PFT showed 96%, my doctor was overwhelmed, saying 5at it was an incredible turnaround, and great for anyone let alone for a 43 yo asthmatic with an underdeveloped lung ! My rheumatologist is adamant about the benefits of yoga for arthritis. It has the added benefit of quieting my mind, a few poses before bed and I sleep much better. The practitioner has total control over how they practice; gentle, or degrees of strenuous. Just the fact that one is getting in touch with how their own body works, and feels, is empowering because they know that they are at least acting to take control of their health.
I haven't done yoga routines in several years, but I do remember the principles applied to the asanas (poses,) which help me significantly, e.g., holding, calming, breathing, attending to changes. I have been developing arthritis in my upper back and shoulders, for which I now do a lot of the mountain pose (tadasana.) One of the principles of classical yoga is the duration of holding, which seems not to be a concern when yoga routines are taught today. I think many people would benefit by holding various routines for much longer than taught in routines. I frequently hold tadasana for 2-3 minutes, and attending to the minute changes that occur, which I believe trains my brain to remember correct spinal alignment. Just a thought. Specialization on certain asanas that target individual issues may be as important as overall flexibility and strength. One's past history has an influence also, as I seem to have retained much of my fitness from my days of distance running as well.
Oops, I noticed a mistake. I meant to say, "...would benefit by holding various poses for much longer than taught in routines." @sjrosterfer5 -- Your story is amazing, and especially so, because your yoga is self-taught! Experiment with hold your poses for longer durations, and pay attention to the minute changes that happen, that even observing instructors will not be able to see. I think you will learn a lot about your own body that no one else will be able to teach you.
I remember at my previous job, a co-worker was helped in moving her residence, by another worker almost twice her age. She told me she was exhausted, but Victoria was tireless. I mentioned it to Vic, and she said simply, "I do yoga."
I agree that there are amazing benefits to holding poses and that a lot of yoga doesn't focus on that @rtimai. It's almost like we've taken yoga and mimicked it to more reflect how we move through life since everything is so fast-paced these days, which is why flow classes are everywhere. I have found some styles that do focus more on holding poses - restorative, iyengar and yin yogas focus on alignment and holding poses. These styles are more gentle and very meditative while focusing on proper form and promoting relaxation.
A yoga friend and I were speaking about the holding of poses just this week. She is a real go-getter and I am impatient, and we both neglect to give our asanas sufficient time. It's really good to hear your affirmation of the value of holding poses - even (especially) "simple" ones like tadasana. Thanks for this!
@AARPRachelA and @Smilinglady -- Thank you both for your response. I'm exploring, I suppose, "obscure modalities" in fitness training. I also do squats in super-slow motion as suggested by a T'ai Chi instructor, 30 seconds down, 30 seconds up. Even just five reps (5 minutes!) a day actually changes my walking stride. And I'm surprised that I don't have the muscle soreness that I would have had in my 30s and 40s. Don't know why that is... Have to get ready to go to work now...
I've become much more flexible and feel great. This is something I never thought I'd do in a million years. I also swim a mile four days a week, tread water for half an hour afterwards and ride my bike on the GAP trail when the weather cooperates. I love being retired and doing what I want!!!
Been practicing yoga (hatha and vinyasa) for more than 15 years, started in mid-40s. It's the one "exercise" program I've been able to stay with as it's more than that - it's now my way of life. I will never be without it! Benefits for me: keeps me trim and toned, with well defined, strong muscles. Has improved my posture, balance and gait - I am very aware of how I move and my spatial presence. Yoga has aided my concentration, mindfulness and relaxation, and has challenged me physically in a fun, safe manner - I could never do a handstand in youth - now at 63, I'm so excited to be able to include handstands and other fun arm balances in my practice! Met tons of great friends through my studios, and with COVID, we've been able to sustain practice through live ZOOM classes offered from my studio. Yoga is for everyone - there's a practice to suit all, from beginners to pros, gentle seated stretches to more vigorous aerobic routines. Visit more than one studio to find a good fit with really good instructors. Namaste, baby!
I've done decades of race/speed walking, some 10 years of Tai Chi for seniors, and several years of yoga. Each has aspects I especially appreciate: the walking is aerobic and gets me (and the dog) outside; the Tai Chi enhances fluidity and flow (both inner and outer); yoga stretches and strengthens. Of course they all overlap in improving breathing, balance, posture, and focus, along with awareness of inner being, the immediate environment, and the connection between them. All are adaptable to individual abilities and limitations. All can empower healing and personal growth as well as maintain wholeness of being. I have used each for all their benefits and sometimes with particular goals in mind. I like yoga best for upper body strengthening, and the wide variety of poses that make it both adaptable and challenging.
Now, as aging has made low back issues chronic, I am no longer able to forward bends and asymmetric poses, and I especially value the many poses that remain from which I can build sequences. I am also increasingly appreciative of chair yoga as an option for anyone who chooses it. One does not have to become a pretzel to benefit from yoga, but one does have to take responsibility for one's body and choose movement that both fits and encourages one's health.