about yoga for the physically challengedBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

The logical path of Yoga for the physically challenged is global proliferation. Many people face the same issues: They feel pain, their joints ache, and they feel stiff, which makes exercise critical. Yet, any form of exercise is difficult if you never established an exercise routine. This is a deep-rooted problem: To establish a positive habit is difficult when you have never considered it before.

Maybe a family member recommended Hatha Yoga for the physically challenged, but to put it into practice can be challenging if you never exercised in your life. Especially as one gets older, exercise becomes more important. Exercise is needed to keep the body working in the best possible condition. Physical exercise helps the heart and other vital organs work in optimum condition. Exercise keeps one feeling younger for a longer period of time. How can one find an exercise routine that fits them if they are physically challenged? The answer for many is simple: Yoga.

Before it becomes quickly crossed off a list of viable health solutions, most people need to understand what Yoga is before they object to it. To some, Yoga is for the rich person or the modern day hippies, who enjoy posing as animals and finding their spiritual peace. However, that assessment is nothing more than tunnel vision. In fact, the practice of Yoga is extremely beneficial to one’s body and mind, no matter their age. Yoga is something people of all ages and physical levels can participate in.

There are many Yoga DVDs on the market today, ranging in difficulty. This means that there are videos about Yoga for the physically challenged, just as there are videos for the more experienced. With the use of DVDs, one can take the practice directly into their home and not have to be embarrassed about their skill level. Privacy is one of the best aspects of this option. It provides comfort along with all the benefits of Yoga exercise – Right?

Wrong! Please consult your health professional, physician, or a medical specialist before practicing Yoga. Do your research. Yoga student safety is really important. Please take some private lessons with a competent Yoga teacher to understand the basics before practicing with a DVD. These particular practices that some people simply call: “Yoga moves” can be designed to focus on slow, gentle, therapeutic, and deliberate movements that are designed to ease stress, anxiety, as well as depression.

Throughout the course of Hatha Yoga practice, one will also notice an improvement in muscle strength and tone, resulting in a more coordinated and balanced life.  Yoga for the physically challenged also focuses on breathing. Most people inhale and exhale without a thought of it. However, Yoga teaches specific breathing (pranayama), which will strengthen the lungs.  The truth is, everyone, even those who have special physical needs, are in need of consistent exercise. Practicing Yoga safely will improve balance, coordination, breathing, and overall health for all who participate.

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Resources

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Bhavanani Ananda Balayogi, Ramanathan Meena, Harichandrakumar K T. Immediate effect of mukha bhastrika (a bellows type pranayama) on reaction time in mentally challenged adolescents. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 2012 Apr-Jun; 56(2): 174-180.