Judith Lyon: Reach into the strap, try to lengthen the back of the leg.
Announcer: Judith Lyon is a yoga instructor at the Fitness Center of the National Institutes of Health. She has been practicing yoga for over 17 years. For her, the benefits of yoga have been deep and wide-ranging.
Judith: On the physical level, it's helped me stay very, very flexible. It has helped me build strength, grounding, balance.
Announcer: Originating in India many centuries ago, yoga is an example of Mind-Body Medicine, a type of therapy that focuses on the interactions among the mind, the body and behavior. Today, yoga has become popular in the United States. People use it for a variety of conditions and to achieve fitness and relaxation. Yoga is usually offered in a class setting where various stretching, breathing and relaxation techniques are taught.
Judith: I teach a variety of poses-- standing poses, warrior poses, seated forward bends, twists, balancing, and, of course, relaxation.
Announcer: Many people think only of the physical parts of yoga, but in its full form, yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and a distinct philosophy.
Announcer: Older adults are finding that yoga may have something to offer them. For example, there is growing evidence to suggest that yoga can enhance the ability to cope with stress.
Judith: The effects of slowing the breath down and making it deeper and softer has a profound effect on the nervous system.
Announcer: While some yoga poses like child's pose and table pose are fairly easy to accomplish, others like warrior and downward facing dog can be more challenging, especially for beginners. Older adults with certain physical and medical conditions may need to adjust the way they do some of the poses.
Judith: The first thing I do when I meet a new student, whether they're young or old, is I ask them do you have any physical injuries or issues that I need to know about.
Announcer: For example, the downward facing dog pose was modified for an older student with high blood pressure.
Judith: So I had Bob at the wall in an L-shaped position so he was able to get very grounded into his feet, use the strength of his legs to support his spine, and also to keep his head level.
Announcer: If you have a medical condition, consult with your health care provider before starting yoga. If you are considering yoga, educate yourself. Contact various yoga studios and ask about the physical demands of the yoga they specialize in, and about the training and experience of their instructors.
Judith: If you've never done yoga before, you may want to start with gentle class, or a level one.
Announcer: Although more research is needed to determine the specific health benefits it may provide, yoga is generally considered to be safe when practiced appropriately. Today, many people, including older adults, are finding benefits from this age-old Mind-Body practice. Be sure to tell your health care provides about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health.
Judith: And namaste, thank you so much.