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    Aging Well Partners
  • Jul 19
  • 4 min

Daily Dose of Yoga: Easy Ways to Work Yoga into Your Life

Daily Dose of Yoga: Easy Ways to Work Yoga into Your Life

I’ll admit it, I am a yoga teacher, and I rarely attend yoga classes. Is this blasphemy? Am I disparaging yoga studios? Absolutely not! I am letting you – a busy, active, sometimes stressed-out human being – know that you don’t have to attend a yoga class to reap the physical and mental benefits of yoga. Instead, I encourage you to do what I usually do: incorporate short but impactful yoga movements throughout your day. Here are various suggestions that will help you stretch and strengthen and gain better balance, flexibility, and mobility so you can continue to age well.

Yoga is any movement, breathing technique, or mental exercise that leads to a greater connection between body, mind, and spirit. If you have a body and are breathing, you can do yoga. Full stop. No special clothes, no fancy equipment; only your body and your breath are needed for a meaningful yoga experience.

Before you embark on a yoga journey, remember one of yoga’s main tenets: Ahimsa. Ahimsa translates from Sanskrit as non-harm. Simply put, yoga is “no pain, no pain.” Each time you incorporate some yoga into your day, you treat your body and mind with the same respect you have for a dear friend or family member. As a wise yoga teacher once said, “It’s not about touching your toes; it’s what you learn on the way down.” With all this in mind, here are some yoga nuggets to help you live your best life.

Enjoy hiking or long walks on the beach? Move your ankles in all directions (slowly). Point your toes, then draw your toes towards your shin. Now turn your foot to the left and the right (try to keep the rest of your leg still). Next, turn your foot in circles, letting the big toe lead the way. Your ankles will know what to do the next time you inevitably step on a tree root or wobble on some beach rocks.

Need to work on your balance? If you’re a dog owner, you know how much our dogs love to stop and sniff almost anything. The next time your furry family member decides to stop at a great-smelling bush, transfer your weight onto one foot and see if you can hover the other foot off the ground. Too easy? Close your eyes!

Want to keep your hips happy? While walking, running, and cycling are great activities, none give your hips the full rotation they need. Start by standing on one leg (perhaps with a chair or the wall nearby if balance is challenging) and circle that femur bone around the hip socket several times. Remember the other hip!

Are your shoulders feeling tight? You can roll your shoulders forward and back in about any situation: watching Netflix, sitting on a beach towel, at a red light, or even walking. The key is to take the movements slowly. This movement allows you to influence many more tissues in those shoulders.

If your shoulders bother you, your neck may also give you some trouble. Think about stretching and strengthening your neck muscles. One of my favorite neck strengtheners can be done while sitting in your car at a red light. While looking straight ahead and while keeping your chin parallel to the ground, pull your chin back towards the headrest. Yes, you’ll create a double or triple chin in the process – that means you’re doing it correctly.

Are you looking to prevent or eliminate low back pain? While your healthcare provider is the best person to consult first, I recommend movements for the mid-back. Often low back pain is due to stiffness in the part of your spine where your ribcage connects. So, take some mindful twists during your day (not a typical movement, we assume). Then, channel your inner Ferris Bueller or Chubby Checker and move that mid-back!

Have you ever heard of synovial fluid? It’s a thick liquid between our joints that reduces friction and cushions our bones when we move. Unfortunately, as we age, we lose this fluid due to less bodily movement. But don’t despair! While our bodies cannot create more synovial fluid, we can maintain what we have by moving those joints. Squats and chair pose, work your knees. Warrior 1 and 2 poses can help the shoulders and hips. Sun Salutations get into just about all the joints. www.jenniemacgoyyoga.com/videos

1. And oh, the core. Everywhere you look, someone says we need to strengthen our core. It is crucial, but tons of crunches aren’t much fun. Have a little grandchild who visits at home? Crawl around the floor with them: then try hovering your knees as you crawl. The plank pose is terrific, but what if that pose bothers your wrists? Come down onto your forearms – it’s still a plank pose!

As we age, our strength also decreases. The good news is that yoga can help you get stronger! I encourage people to start strength work by using their body weight in a variety of traditional yoga poses. Eventually, your body will need more of a challenge. That’s when you start adding yoga blocks, resistance bands, and hand weights to your yoga movements. Consistent, progressive strengthening is the only way to continue to strengthen.

I hope you enjoy some of the many ways you can incorporate brief (one to two-minute), impactful yoga movements into your day so that you can continue living your healthiest life possible.

Jennie MacGoy is a certified yoga and movement instructor specializing in 50+ beginners and those with persistent pain. She is known for customizing her sessions to each unique body so every participant experiences the benefits of stretching, strengthening, balance work, breath work, and guided meditations. A recent transplant from the Washington, D.C. area, Jennie is a mom of four and lives in Carlsbad with her husband, teenage daughters, and dog, who prefers to nap on Jennie’s yoga mat. You can find Jennie at www.jenniemacgoyyoga.com