Yoga means union in Sanskrit, union of mind and body. There are many forms of yoga, with some being pure meditation or contemplation. The type of yoga most popular with westerners is hatha yoga. Hatha yoga classes offer an hour or more of rather slow movement while you assume various postures as instructed by the yoga teacher. These postures are held while lying down, sitting, and standing up. Yoga is usually practiced in one place on a mat, so there is no need to navigate unfamiliar territory. A bonus to visually impaired people is that it is usually done with closed eyes. Yoga really helps you to feel your body and can be a wonderful alternative to more vigorous forms of exercise. It is unparalleled in producing flexibility. Every yoga class allows some time for complete relaxation which, as we will see in the next chapter, is one of the most important components of good health. Another benefit of yoga is its emphasis on correct and rhythmic breathing. A very good class in yoga is apt to be offered at your local senior center or adult education program. There are videos available to help you use this technique at home also.
There are several types of yoga. This brief review may be helpful to you in choosing a form that is best. Iyengar yoga is a type of hatha yoga that emphasizes strength as well as flexibility. The postures have a very definite form and are maintained longer than those in simple hatha yoga. Kundalini yoga is highly aerobic with deep and sometimes fast breathing. It can be quite a workout, but it still incorporates relaxation. Bikram yoga uses the same series of postures in a fluid, aerobic workout from class to class. Classes are held in superheated rooms to promote flexibility.
Yoga Photo Gallery
As we mentioned earlier, water is a good medium for visually impaired persons since it does not require good sight. Many YMCAs have programs of aquathenics or water ballet for people with stressed joints, injuries, or arthritis. Water is a very forgiving medium for movement since form is not so important and one does not feel fatigued after a session. Swimming, of course, can also be a rewarding sport, and, along with ice skating, is unparalleled in working many muscle groups without needing to focus on any one in particular.
ORIENTAL FORMS OF EXERCISE
In both China and Japan, it is common to see groups of people, whether employees, students, or residents of the same apartment building, performing rhythmic movements each morning. Quite likely the real purpose of these movements can only be revealed by studying the ancient teachings of the cultures. One cannot help but notice that this seems like a peaceful way to greet the day. (Compare it to grabbing a coffee and doughnut on the way into an American office building.) It also seems to speak to a certain solidarity or unity among the people exercising together. Since it is usually done out of doors in the morning, it seems to relate people to nature at the beginning of a new day.
Several forms of exercise that originated in the orient are becoming very popular in the United States. Tai Chi is perhaps the best known. It requires participants to assume various postures very slowly and deliberately in an effort to enhance balance and grace. It is thought that the inner currents of energy are freed to move in a more healing and unobstructed way as a result of this practice. QiGong is another form of movement especially favored by the elderly in China. These techniques can be found on videos, if you have no classes in your area. Done slowly and with the use of appropriate support, such as chair back to hold onto for balance, they are safe and rewarding. Senior centers may offer these classes, and there they will be paced to those who need assistance and must move a bit more slowly. Like yoga, these practices also focus on the peaceful interplay of mind and body.
This blog offers twelve steps to help you improve your ARMD. Actually, that is not a large number of things to do. It may, at first, seem overwhelming. Think of ways to combine some of these suggestions. For example, growing some of your own food will ensure its high quality while providing an opportunity for exercise in the garden. In the next chapter, we are going to talk about relaxation. Several of the exercise methods we mentioned here, namely yoga and Tai Chi, focus on having a relaxed mind. However, all forms of exercise have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. If you have become dependent on cigarettes or caffeine, which we will talk about in a later chapter, you need to give them up. Exercise as well as stress reduction will help you kick these bad habits. A good diet will lessen your craving for unhealthy substances. So, think synergy. Select those activities that help you redesign your life in ways that make sense for your situation and have the greatest payoff in terms of rebuilding your health.
Four Reasons to Exercise
Improve confidence; increase safety
Develop kinesthetic sense
Improve cardiovascular health
Check List for Step Three
V Select a type of exercise that appeals to you.
V Find a place to exercise.
V Find an exercise partner.
V Learn to monitor your heart rate.
V Begin to exercise three times per week.
V Introduce variety into your routine.