The colder weather often brings stiffer limbs or a more sedentary lifestyle in front of the fire. So we thought we would take a look at three ways to keep the joints moving and the mind relaxed, irrespective of age.
Known to reduce stress and anxiety whilst improving suppleness and agility, Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. It literally means “that which brings you to reality” or “union”.
So how can only stretching and breathing deeply on a mat, or sitting in stillness lead to such a peaceful state? People who already practice Yoga and Meditation know, first hand, the deep calm and sense of well-being that it brings.
The first component is yogic breath, also called abdominal or complete breath, and specific yogic breathing exercises are called “pranayama”. Not only is this breathing relaxing but it helps to alkalize and balance the body. This is accompanied by a flow or sequence of postures known as “asanas” which activate the entire physical metabolism. Together, they require total concentration which, in return, provides new, fresh energy and deep relaxation to balance and cleanse the body and mind.
However, the benefits of Yoga reach far beyond a mindful state. It encourages you to live in the present, enables better sleep, can relieve chronic pain, can help to detoxify the body, and can make you stronger. It can also help to manage weight by increasing mindfulness of eating habits and can provide a heightened sense of self-esteem.
Delphine Rotfus of Julie-Yoga in Toulouse is a Hatha yoga teacher with international certifications. https://www.facebook.com/DelphineRotfus/
Delphine Rotfus of Julie Yoga
Interestingly, limited shoulder mobility, hunched rounded shoulders, bulging tummy and a bad back are not inevitable signs of aging! Maybe you want to exercise but you instinctively know that high impact movements are not what you really want or need, and may even aggravate existing joint problems. Or perhaps you have a medical condition, such as osteoporosis (brittle bones) and you need to strengthen your muscles (and bones!) but avoid movements which might be potentially dangerous. Or quite simply you want to strengthen, tone and work on your balance and flexibility.
Whatever your age, Pilates can probably help. Developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, the Pilates Method focusses on six basic principles;
Concentration: working on the mind/body connection, bringing your awareness to your body and the muscles you are using. Great for stress reduction!
Control: focusing on the quality of the movement rather than a high number of repetitions.
Centering: the ability to engage what we call nowadays your “core”, your abdominal and back muscles.
Flowing movement: not jerky and fast!
Precision: linked to control but also the ability to activate certain muscles whilst relaxing others.
Breathing: complete, deep purposeful breathing linked with the movement.
Most Pilates classes are fairly small so that individual attention (and correction) can be given and movements adapted to the needs of clients.
Linda Lewis is a registered Pilates Teacher in Dordogne. https://www.sites.google.com/site/nordicwalking24/
Linda Lewis is a registered Pilates teacher
What better way to exercise than with original dance moves and vibrant Latin-inspired music! Zumba is not just about toning and sculpting, it is also about relaxing and having a great time. Offering high energy, high and low intensity workouts in the home or classroom, it can be swapped out for high energy, low impact Aquatic Zumba in the pool, making it ideal for everyone, children included!
Whichever level of Zumba you choose it will be sure to build your strength, boost your metabolism and burn calories. Not only that, but it will bring a feel good factor as it works your cardio system and muscles, improves your balance and flexibility, and reduces stress and alleviates depression.
As an exercise, Zumba can be combined with toning sticks for added toning, and toned down for those who are not quite so fit or agile. Ideal for both men and women, it is suitable for all ages and abilities. Interestingly, it was originally intended for those over 50 at a local YMCA – now there’s a name to dance to! Most of all, it is fun.
The beat of the music, the movement and even the neon outfits are all intended to make you feel joyful. Motivating, fun and all-inclusive, Zumba is definitely for everyone – even those who can’t dance!
To find a Yoga, Zumba or Pilates class near you take a look at our business directory listings under Fitness, Well-being and Beauty: Fitness classes, martial arts, yoga and gyms.
First published in the January/February 2019 issue of The Local Buzz
Images: Shutterstock, Delphine Rotfus and Linda Lewis