As someone who discovered dancing to get fit in my 50s one form of exercise I have always enjoyed is yoga. It was slow and gentle enough to allow me to gradually become more supple and to access my energy. I always found that yoga raised my mood too and however I was feeling before a session I was guaranteed to feel better, brighter and more relaxed afterwards. the dance fitness classes I run now are influenced by the various movement forms I’ve experienced over the years. I always cool down the class with at least one song that provides the background sounds to some easy yoga poses. This leads to breathing exercises and a short relaxation to finish with us feeling a little more stretched, toned and chilled out. Whatever the focus of the class I can find yoga poses to enhance the experience. For example when the focus is on strength the warrior poses are perfect and when we focus on the spine, gentle twists fit the bill. My classes emphasises the importance of listening to sensations that your unique body communicates with you with. Deeply non-competitive everyone finds the freedom to do the poses at their own pace and in their own way.
It came as no surprise therefore when I found this meta research from Harvard University. Concluding that many studies show that yoga is indeed an excellent and effective activity for lowering the body’s stress responses and improving mood.
Since the 1970s, meditation and other stress-reduction techniques have been studied as possible treatments for depression and anxiety. One national survey estimated, for example, that about 7.5% of U.S. adults had tried yoga at least once, and that nearly 4% practiced yoga in the previous year. Available reviews of a wide range of yoga practices suggest they can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful for both anxiety and depression. In this respect, yoga functions like other self-soothing techniques, such as meditation, relaxation, exercise, or even socialising with friends.
Yoga classes can vary from gentle and accommodating to strenuous and challenging; the choice of style tends to be based on physical ability and personal preference. Luckily we are spoilt for choice in Norfolk with excellent yoga practitioners in abundance. A quick Google search will show you what’s available in your area and will allow you to have some fun deciding on the right class for you.