I haven’t written very much about the health side of retirement other than my diabetes blogs. And I haven’t taken any time to consider the exercise and good health component of retirement. Until now that is and then, prompted by an article a couple of days ago on The Huffington Post / AOL site which was entitled ‘How Regular Exercise, Even In Your 80s, Can Help Maintain Health (And Keep You Out Of Hospital)’, I thought that this might be the moment. I saw it as a sign, a prompt, a portent, whatever, to write and publish this blog, I believe in such things. I thought the HP article would be about exercise and it was and I have no doubt (well actually I do have a bit of doubt but we’ll let that go for now) that the general premise that exercise is good for the retired person – at least 25 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise a day according to the article.
Believing in moderation in all things I’ll go for the moderate version. So all good but an article on exercise, per se, is not, I thought, what I need by way of introduction to this particular blog, except, when I scrolled down the HP article, there was a picture of a somewhat elderly couple in Florida, or somewhere similar judging by the palm tree in the background but no matter, they were doing yoga unless I’m greatly mistaken. She was swaying like a tree (slightly arthritic one I thought) in the breeze and the bloke was standing on his head and, as far as I could tell there wasn’t a pole or step ladder or similar holding him up. So I know that it’s yoga because Mrs Summerhouse engages in this kind of behaviour from time to time. Quite gives you a nasty turn when you come round a corner, thinking about life in it’s many guises, and there she is, upside down.
By now, other than recommending the exercise article in The Huffington Post to you – link to article at the end – you may be wondering where I’m going with this particular blog. Well, the clue is in the yoga reference in the title. This blog will be hopefully the first of a number of blogs put out by Mrs SH about one of her areas of expertise – yoga. She teaches yoga on a regular basis and is well thought of by her students, so I reasoned what the heck why not have a regular blog about the health side of retirement in the form of yoga exercises. Now before you accuse me of being a bit of a hypocrite, let me admit that yoga is not for me. Mrs SH has been teaching yoga for about 40 years and apart from the odd flirtation with the discipline (and there’s the problem for me, I’m just not a very disciplined kind of guy), I’ve never taken to it. We’ve got the dogs (they insisted on being in the photos, complaining only that Mrs SH wasn’t doing The Dog) now and they demand an hour’s walk every day and that’s enough for me. It will be very interesting on my next diabetes review meeting if the increased exercise has had any effect as my diabetic nurse was always banging on about how exercise was the answer to all my problems – so now I’m doing it the outcome had better be good! Anyway, as I was saying, yoga for me, no, but I know many people our age do indeed swear by it. So, here we go.
I asked Mrs SH to come up with poses suitable for the retired person – a broad concept I know – and to tell us why each pose would be good for us. Here is her first offering. You’ll notice she is the right way up in this pose but it may get more interesting as we go along. Mrs SH has this to say about yoga – it requires a combination of the mind, body and breath working together in harmony to achieve a sense of equilibrium. The benefits of yoga generally, she says – yoga is a non-competitive activity and, hence, you can go along at your own pace through all these asanas (poses). Yoga has been proved to lower blood pressure, reduce aches and pains, relax the mind, reduce stress among many other benefits.
The name of this pose is The Tree / Sanskrit name Vrksasana. It is one of a number of standing / balancing postures suitable for beginners and it would form a part of a balanced yoga programme. This photo shows a variation on the one above and has only one dog. Millie had lost interest at this point.
The benefit of this particular pose is that it helps to maintain balance which we tend to lose as we get older. Also it helps calm the mind because of the concentration required to practise the pose.
- This pose is best in bare feet as with all yoga postures.
- First, stand on your right leg bring your left foot to the top of your inner right thigh.
- Then extend the body upwards and on an in-breath raise both arms over your head. Try to keep the breath steady throughout the posture.
- Aim to hold up to thirty seconds (increasing as you become more proficient) when releasing from the posture lower the arms on an out-breath and at the same time lower your leg.
- Pause and repeat this on the other side.
- If your balance is bad then stand by a wall. If there are any mobility problems with hips or knees the foot can be placed lower down the leg. You can practise this up to 3 times each side. On completion of the posture stand still and relax and reflect on how you feel or what effect the pose has had on you.
I’ve come to think of this blog as a kind of department store, a shop with many different things on sale, except I’m not selling anything. I consider posting this yoga blog as the equivalent of opening a new department. The health (only beauty being represented by Mrs SH herself – I’d better put that in) minus beauty department. Now if you’d told me that retirement would offer me the opportunity to open a department store or maybe a supermarket, I would have said don’t be silly.
Link to article: