Ancient discipline of yoga is secret to eternal youth
- Credit: PA
Many older people are discovering that gentle, stretching excercises can help to ease osteoporosis, menopausal discomfort and arthritis
Yoga, the mental, physical and spiritual discipline invented by ancient Indian civilisation but widely practiced by North West London yummy-mummies and stressed out city bankers, has transformed considerably since its conception 5,000 years ago.
Initially recognised as a religious exercise, yoga is now acknowledged by many to be a reputable way of counteracting the strains to our body that are imposed by our twenty-first lifestyles.
Many modern yoga classes have deviated from traditional yogic poses, introducing new positions that focus on reducing the tension caused by straining over laptops or sitting at desks all day.
“Yoga is maybe even more important now than it was years ago,” says Hilda Silver, a yoga enthusiast from Hampstead Garden Suburb who has been teaching the discipline since 1982.
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“With computers, mobile phones and long office hours, our bodies don’t fully relax or get the exercise they require. We need yoga to help us stretch out and reenergise”.
Once seen as a practice for the young, fit and flexible, yoga is progressively becoming a pastime of the elderly.
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Acknowledged to be a safe and effective method of exercise for older practitioners, regular yoga has been proven to help several conditions associated with old age, such as osteoporosis, menopausal discomfort and arthritis.
It’s no surprise that yoga institutions are increasingly holding sessions exclusively for those aged sixty-plus.
You can never be too old for yoga,” says Silver, who currently has an eighty-year-old on her roster. “Yoga is ageless – you just adapt it accordingly. In all honesty, some of the older people I teach are even better than the younger ones.
“It’s important for the elderly to do yogic poses to improve their flexibility and mobility. Yoga can make your body feel younger through very simple exercises.”
When Silver teaches yoga to the elderly she often uses blocks, belts and chairs for assistance.
“It’s about getting them to do what they can, without injuring themselves,” she explains. “For older people, yoga is as much a social activity as a physical one. They may only get out of the house a couple of times a week, so going to a regular yoga classes can really make a difference to their lives”.
Hilda Silver holds senior classes in Golders Green, Hampstead Garden Suburb and Kentish Town. To get involved or learn more about her classes, visit yogawithhilda.yogaclassnearyou.co.uk.