Don't think yoga is for you? If you're feeling stiff or achy, it may be the best medicine--no headstands required. Research shows that doing a gentle yoga workout most days of the week can relieve back and arthritis pain, ramp up energy, and even temper hot flashes. And the benefits are long lasting--people reported 70% less lower-back pain 3 months after a study in which they attended a weekly yoga class and practiced at home, say researchers at West Virginia University School of Medicine. Bonus: It may also make you happier, according to research from Boston University School of Medicine. After 60 minutes of yoga, volunteers' levels of the feel-good brain chemical GABA increased by 27%.
This short, beginner-friendly plan was developed by Susan Winter Ward, who created Yoga for the Young at Heart, a video series for people over age 50 (yogaheart.com). With regular practice, you'll tone your muscles, improve flexibility, and feel younger than ever.
Workout at a Glance
You'll need: A yoga mat and a sturdy chair
How to do it: Perform poses in order, flowing from one to the next. It will take about 15 minutes. For a greater challenge and more benefits, do the routine twice or hold the poses longer.
Bring your right knee to your chest and twist it across your body until your right knee rests on the floor. Turn your head to the right and bring your arms out so your upper body forms a T shape.
Stand facing a chair. Make sure your heels are straight behind your toes and your feet are under your hips. Place your hands on the seat, and walk your feet back a few steps until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor and your arms are fully extended.
From chair, straighten your legs and grab your right ankle with your right hand. Press the sole of your right foot into your left upper thigh. When you feel steady, extend your arms overhead.
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