As I've mentioned in previous posts, I was a sick kid, so in my early twenties when a friend introduced me to healthy eating and working out, I immediately protested that those things most certainly would be of no help to me because I was born with this faulty body that was prone to pain and sickness...
Thankfully, my friend wasn't buying my bullshit and insisted that if I was human, I was capable of eating healthy food, exercising and that yes, even my lame ass body would respond favorably in some way.
During my twenties, thirties and forties, cardio, weight training and various aggressive workouts kept my body lean and strong, but something happened as I began to approach fifty... things began to HURT! I'm not talkin' workout pain like from the lactic acid build up that is so common in post workout recovery, I'm talking pain, like, "oh my God, I think I may have broken myself!"
X-rays and MRIs would reveal that indeed a life of living boldly, taking some falls, having some car wrecks, doing a lot of hard core work outs had begun to take its toll on my body.
But what to do? I wasn't going to become some squishy old lady who couldn't carry her own groceries, or stop going on all of the adventures that life surely still has in store for me.
So, what to do? Yoga that's what!
Conditions Addressed By Yoga:
- Sarcopenia (muscle loss) and osteopenia (bone loss)- The weight bearing aspect of yoga as well as the increased balance and flexibility can really give aging a run for its runner's lunge.
- Core Strength- Back pain, bulging- herniated and slipped discs are helped by building core strength so that the back is more supported thereby reducing further injury and helping to reduce pain.
- Compromised Ligaments- Hips, shoulders, knees and ankles are particularly vulnerable. Yoga helps to strengthen the muscles that surround those areas giving them much needed support (always be sure to select a yoga practice that honors any previous injuries).
- Tendonapathy/tendonitis- inflammation of the joints is very uncomfortable This condition requires a very eclectic approach to your daily yoga practice in order to avoid over taxing tendons and days of rest may also be required, but the good news is that in time, the condition may subside due to these time tested postures!
- Neuropathy and nerve issues- you know that numb tingling feeling? That is the result of lack of circulation. Yoga addresses all of the systems of the body beautifully to help promote healthy blood flow.
- Blood Pressure- some studies have shown yoga to be helpful in reducing blood pressure.
- Insomnia- the deep breathing that is promoted during yoga helps you to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly! WHOO HOO! I mean... whoo hoo :-)
- Chronic Bronchitis, Asthma & Emphysema- again, it's all about the breath here. Deep breathing is very helpful to these conditions and yoga is chock full o' deep breathing.
- Hormone Changes- HELLOOOOOO!?! Oh yes, this is a biggie! By addressing ALL of the systems of the body, hormone issues such as menopause can become much more bearable!
- Chronic Illness & Pain- although some adaptations may be required to do yoga if you suffer from diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, it can still prove to be very helpful and give hope for a much brighter future.
So this all sounds pretty good huh? It almost sounds too good to be true, but there is a reason yoga has been around for thousands of years!
So, how to start a practice?
I had done plenty of yoga previously in my life but never as my primary work out. I knew by my chronic pain that I really had no choice, so I began to investigate how I could get the best possible yoga work out. Here is the dilemma, I am kinda competitive, so getting into a room with other people might lead to further injuries, AND, I was really feeling like having some me time that would be contemplative rather than social, might be just what the doctor ordered since I live a very social lifestyle.
Where I went next brought a gift to me that I couldn't have predicted. You see there is a LOT of content on the web. Did you know that? It's TRUE! If you haven't already done so, go to YouTube some time and put in "yoga" and you will be astonished at how many results you get, and so many of these would be yoga instructors just were NOT a fit for me. I needed a yogi that I could respect and who would give instructions that would be very specific to keep me from making all of the common mistakes in the postures, someone who would encourage me to listen to my body and accept where I am at each and every day without pushing to the point of injury. I needed... Adriene!
Yoga with Adriene is an online community lead by Adriene Mishler. She has so many videos for all different levels of practitioners and she gives SPOT ON instructions. Best of all, she feels like a real pal. It almost feels like she's just hanging out in the room with you!
Here is a link to a little video I did to show you my goofy morning yoga with Adriene.
Happy body. Happy life!