Yoga for Resilience and Longevity
Yoga for Resilience in Body, Mind and Spirit
Holistic Yoga and Somatics classes are designed specifically to increase your resilience and longevity throughout your adult life. The classes offer safe and appropriate practices for adults of any age, fitness level, flexibility, background, gender and movement experience.
The classes are, as far as possible, created in the moment, and tailored to the people who are attending at the time. Many find yoga helps them to feel calmer, more energised and relaxed. When we practice regularly we can literally rejuvenate ourselves at a cellular level, which is why there is such an interest these days in yoga for healthy ageing.
These are also interactive classes. You will be taught how to make the poses, exercises and practices “just right for you.” It is fine to ask questions – one person’s inquiry often provides insight for others in the group, so it’s positively encouraged.
You’ll get more out of the classes if you learn how to modify practices, to make them more accessible or more challenging, so that they works for your unique needs. This type of yoga is about listening and responding to your body, rather than overriding the body’s messages in order to achieve a certain shape.
In this way we can slowly and mindfully rebuild connections. You will learn lesson by lesson how to activate the deep inner support that is there inside you, yet often lying dormant through lack of use due to habit or injury.
Yoga for Resilience and Rewiring Movement Patterns
F. M. Alexander (creator of the well-known Alexander Technique) noticed that when we have a goal-oriented approach, we are often tempted to make movement shortcuts to the desired end state. He called this “end gaining.” Thomas Hanna noticed that end gaining results in us deepening the groove of our habitual movement patterns. We never get to wake up those dormant muscles. This is because our nervous system shortcuts to the most used muscles, time after time, deepening the groove. The only way out is to really take the time to rewire and reconnect.
Instead of being concerned with arbitrary goals such as touch ones toes, we seek to identify the parts of the body that are not participating in the movement. Once we have found them, we use focus attention, slow movement and focussed repetition to get those muscles fibres online once more. In this way we become stronger and more efficient in our movement.
Yoga for Healthy Ageing
As human beings we are capable of an enormous range and diversity of movement. Yet sadly, our daily lives often do not challenge us to move very much. This is even more true during the lockdowns as we spend more time in front of our screens and within the confines of our homes.
Yoga postures encourage our bodies to move “out of the box” of an ordinary life of sitting, driving or the repetitive movements associated with our daily tasks. In fact, yoga practice helps us to perform our daily chores with more ease, as we become more tuned in to how we use our body and how we relate to gravity.
In the classes we work quite specifically on muscles that are prone to becoming more dormant due to prolonged sitting. This enables us to avoid freezing into a “chair shape” as we age.
Establishing a regular movement practice helps to prevent the stooping shoulders, the hunched posture, the forward head and the tight hip flexors associated with ageing. Choosing the right type of yoga, for healthy ageing helps to develop strength, confidence and good health, which all increase as you continue and deepen your practice.
Yoga for Resilience and Longevity – The Importance of Balance
One way of keeping ourselves healthy as we age is to learn how to balance on one foot well. Yoga explore many balancing postures, which is ideal as balancing on one leg helps to tune up our proprioceptive awareness our sense of where we are in space.
This enables us to have faster reaction times in adapting to changes in our environment as we move through it. Balance also greatly engages and strengthens the core muscles, including the muscles of our feet, inner legs, abdominals, spinal muscles and pelvic floor muscles.
Balancing practice gets us more comfortable with feeling wobbly (both physically and emotionally), which paradoxically allows us to become more grounded and stable in our lives.
Flexibility Can Be Overrated in Yoga
Many people come to yoga thinking they are not flexible enough. A practice of yoga and somatics will help you to explore your range of motion. It’s important to see this as an exploration not an end goal, as discussed previously.
Pushing for more flexibility, as ballet dancers and gymnasts do, is not a helpful part of yoga practice. It is not uncommon for seasoned yoga practitioners to have torn ligaments, destabilised sacroiliac joints and dislocated shoulders because they stretched too much during their practice.
One of the first principles of yoga is ahimsa or non harming, there is no benefit in stressing out our joints and weakening our muscles in order to fulfil an ideal of flexibility.
This is particularly true for people who are naturally flexible. Some people people have a condition of too much laxity in their connective tissue (the ligaments and tendons; but also the fascia that surrounds organs and muscles).
This is called hypermobility syndrome or in the more extreme cases Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome. (EDS). People with hypermoblity are drawn to yoga, they love to stretch! However, they are more in danger of over stretching than others. The focus is ideally on strengthening, lengthening and releasing tightness – not stretching.
Mind-Body Yoga and Hanna Somatics
Holistic Yoga and Holistic Somatics are mind-body practices. Science is discovering that activities that fully engage the mind and the body enable the nervous system to reset itself to a more balanced state. When in balance, we are able to access the flight or flight mode in a mild way in order to bring zest and energy into our activities.
In addition we can easily drop back to a rested state, where we are able to digest, repair tissues and fully relax. Life is inherently full of challenges and stressors and our nervous systems are primed to prioritise detecting and responding to threats. For this reason, we can easily get stuck in the “fight or flight” mode.
Our nervous systems can also get stuck in a situation where we simply curl up and shut down to protect ourselves. Yoga offers us techniques that can lead us out of these states back to a calm, relaxed and socially engaged state.
In this way yoga supports our mental and emotional resilience as well as our physical health.
Breath and Longevity
In the yoga tradition, it is said that the length of our life can be measured in how many breaths we take. It follows that if we wish to live a long live, our breath pattern would ideally be of a slow pace.
Generally adults breathe around 10-12 breaths per minute, commonly even more. However, scientific studies of the breath and the nervous system show that a breath pattern of around 5-6 breaths per minute is ideal for most adults. Children have different physiology in regards to breath.
This is the breath pattern that you might start to drop into after a few years of yoga and breath practice. For more information about breath and health, please see James Nestor’s excellent book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art.
The focus on breath is ever present in our Holistic Yoga and Holistic Somatics classes, as breath is fundamental to our health and well being.
OK… So Where Do I Start?
There are three choices of how to access Holistic Yoga classes online. Choose what suits you best. If you are in pain or have a long standing health condition, remember to check with your healthcare provider to see if gentle movement is suitable for you.
If you have a sport or movement practice and only the occasional ache or pain bothers you, start with the Holistic Yoga classes. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, problems with balance and frequent aches and pains, try the Holistic Somatics classes. It really is up to you as there are no hard and fast rules, but this is a good starting point. Strength and resilience are not purely physical qualities. Meditation can help develop focus, calm and quicker recovery from stressful situations. All classes are currently on Zoom.
Private 1-2-1 Classes
The ideal approach to building your strength and resilience is to start with a private class with me. This first class is an assessment of your breathing and movement. From this starting point I can tailor the practices specifically to your needs and build a programme to develop your resilience in the areas that are necessary for you.
As you progress, you will gain strength, flexibility and balance in your body-mind. Email Julia about in-person 1-2-1 classes or book a Zoom 1-2-1 class by clicking the button below
The best course to choose to develop strength and resilience is the course of that same name. This video course introduces you improving posture, breath and movement (and more) in your every day life. Following this you could do the Seven-Week Audio Yoga Course. You can always attend the off live Zoom class if you want to check in Julia to see how to do a movement or to ask questions. Another alternative is to have a private class to gain more understanding of your movement prior to starting the course.