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Published: April 16, 2024

woman doing yoga laying down in group class

Ask a person why she practices yoga regularly and you’re likely to hear one or all of these reasons: Flexibility. Stress. Balance. Strength. Relaxation.

In a nutshell: Yoga makes you feel better physically, emotionally and mentally.Makes sense, given the many health benefits of yoga, an ancient practice that yokes body movement with breath awareness.

Writes Sage Rountree, co-author of “Lifelong Yoga”:

“With time, your body becomes less flexible, less stable, slower, weaker, and less competitive in endurance. You lose elasticity in muscle, fascia, and, perhaps most obviously, skin. As a result, you need to acclimate to having a different perspective on physical goals. Even if you modify your practice for common afflictions, yoga can often mitigate or relieve symptoms. Whether you’re dealing with heart issues or diminished lung capacity, decreased bone density or muscle loss, back pain or an artificial knee, doing yoga can make you feel better.”

Get on your mat

Along with its many benefits, yoga is accessible to all ages and easy to start. You need little except a mat, maybe a pair of yoga blocks and a strap. Yes, yoga clothes and accessories are popular but you don’t NEED them. Rather invest in a good mat. Older yogis particularly like thicker mats because the extra cushioning is more comfortable for achy knees and joints.

Classes are easy to find too. Most health and fitness centers offer a variety of classes and most every neighborhood has a yoga studio – or several. Post-pandemic online classes are plentiful too.

The Cleveland Clinic offers free neighborhood yoga classes at three locations: South Pointe Hospital in Warrensville Heights; Langston Hughes Community Health and Education Center in Cleveland; and Stephanie Joins Health Center in East Cleveland. Click here for schedules. Also, some senior centers and public health agencies, such as Lorain County Public Health, offer free yoga and other fitness classes.

Like any new fitness activity, you want to check with your doctor first if you have any serious health issues.

If you’re looking for a particular health benefit from yoga, John Hopkins Medicine has come up with a list of symptoms and corresponding poses. Here are 3 of them:

  1. For low back pain relief, try Cat-Cow
    Get on all fours, placing your palms underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. First, inhale, as you let your stomach drop down toward the floor. Then, exhale, as you draw your navel toward your spine, arching your spine like a cat stretching. 
  2. For heart health, try Downward Dog
    Get on all fours, then tuck your toes under and bring your sitting bones up, so that       you make a triangle shape. Keep a slight bend in your knees, while lengthening your spine and tailbone.
  1. To sleep better, try Legs-Up-the-Wall
    Sit with your left side against a wall, then gently turn right and lift your legs up to rest against the wall, keeping your back on the floor and your sitting bones close to the wall. You can remain in this position for 5 to 15 minutes.

Kendal embraces yoga

In a recent fitness survey the number one requested class by Kendal residents and staff was yoga. And the Wellness staff responded with a schedule that includes an assortment of different types of yoga, such as chair, aqua and yin.

The yoga classes are being taught by Jasmine Billock, Wellness specialist and RYT-200 hour. “Before I started practicing yoga I thought it was slow, boring and religious. Was I wrong,” says the 26-year-old teacher. “The more I did it, I realized that you get out of yoga what you need.”

In addition to enjoying the benefits of a physical practice that incorporates breathing and meditation, Jasmine loves to see how students respond to yoga. “Everybody leaves class so much different than when they arrived. They’re smiling and look so content,” she says.

One type of yoga Jasmine is introducing at Kendal is Yin Yoga, which focuses on holding a pose longer (3-5 minutes) rather than a constant flow. Yin promotes flexibility and relaxation and is an excellent early evening practice for a good night’s sleep. Like many people, Kendal residents like to be challenged but in time Jasmine thinks they will find Yin to be beneficial.

When it comes to her own fitness, Jasmine said her “true love” is still lifting weights, but yoga is key to her well-being. “I think of yoga as my preservative, it’s not my calling but it supports and allows me to do my calling. I’m grateful I’ve integrated yoga into my life,” she says.

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Author Molly Kavanaugh 2020In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.

About Kendal at Oberlin: Kendal is a nonprofit life plan community serving older adults in northeast Ohio. Located about one mile from Oberlin College and Conservatory, and about a 40 minute drive from downtown Cleveland, Kendal offers a vibrant resident-led lifestyle with access to music, art and lifelong learning.