One of the secrets of living slow – and longer - is taking gentle, regular exercise. Regular exercise can make you happier by increasing the production of endorphins, which help to create positive feelings and reduce levels of anxiety.
The body also detoxifies via perspiration and circulation improves. Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, good muscle tone, bone density and flexible joints. There is always a benefit from moving, no matter the intensity of physical activity, and by making sure you move your body daily you are giving yourself the best chance of staying mobile into your latter years… and enjoying better quality sleep in the process. Choose an activity you really do love and commit to it daily – this will give you the greatest chance of keeping to it longterm. This doesn’t have to mean an expensive class or a trip the gym:
“Walk, Stretch, Breath”
Walk - Walking for 20 minutes a day has proven health benefits and can improve your general wellbeing. Engaging in an activity you enjoy, such as walking, can increase energy levels and provide anti-oxidant protection and promote blood flow, which can protect skin and help delay signs of ageing. Increased muscle tone and more flexible joints will serve you well throughout all your life.
But it’s not just your body that benefits. Exercise can also help your memory and brain health as well as relaxation and sleep quality, so both your mind and wellbeing will reap rewards too. Getting outside into nature makes all of us feel better and can help with symptoms of depression; simply being surrounded by trees, plants, flowers and wildlife is so good for us. Birdsong and natural light are so uplifting. Aside from raising your spirits and boosting memory, it can help energise you too. Walking, like any type of exercise, stimulates your body’s ability to create energy. Picking up the pace is really good for guarding against osteoporosis and also leaves skin with a vibrant, healthy glow. Even on holiday try to make the effort to get up early and take a long walk along the beach when it’s quiet and cool. We think there’s nothing quite like it.
Stretch – Gently wake up your body in the morning with a series of simple stretches. This increases flexibility and starts your energy flowing for the day ahead. The traditional Chinese practice of Qui Gong is incredible for helping to unblock your body’s natural energy channels and set you up for the day. Originating in China and practised for thousands of years, this gentle but powerful exercise is made up of repeated internal and external movements that help to develop your natural life force, or ‘chi’. Through stretching the body and increasing the movement of fluids such as blood and lymph, it gives a greater sense of mental and physical wellbeing, as well as a dynamic surge of energy.
Breath awareness – Breathing deeply, fully filling your lungs then slowly breathing out until your belly feels empty, has hugely positive effects on the mind. It releases tension and settles the body. Deep, slow and smooth breathing can really help you feel grounded. It’s also easy to do and completely free. Meditation like this can be so beneficial. Try to get completely comfortable, supported by either lying on the floor, sitting on a chair with your feet on the ground or even on the bed. If you find your mind wandering there are some great apps available to help get you started, whether you just listen to music or follow a timed guided meditation. Even a few minutes built into a regular routine can help with reducing stress although aim for 15 mins a day.
Yoga - "Yoga is a light, which once is lit, will never dim. The better you practice, the brighter the flame", said yoga guru, B.K.S. Iyengar. For those who have discovered the many benefits of a regular yoga practice we know it helps to shape their whole life, quickly becoming an intrinsic part of their regular routine. We recommend Iyengar yoga. Iyengar yoga pays attention to the anatomical detail, precision and alignment of each posture. Classes are structured, balanced and have variety. No two classes are the same, which means that they include forms from all groups of postures, are methodological with a harmonious sequence and a progression of yoga postures. There is also use of props when necessary to help improve understanding of a pose or if there is a physical limitation, difficulty or injury. Students are taught to listen and respect their bodies. Teachers are skilled and undergo a strict and rigorous training to keep students and classes safe. Teachers give a clear demonstration, explanation and whenever necessary, individual correction and adjustment; all classes include Savasana, yoga's relaxation pose at the end of each class.
Yoga develops flexibility, increases mobility, stamina and concentration but most precious of all, it helps to restore a positive mind and disposition, giving inner peace and calm. Iyengar yoga is for everybody, young and old. We can’t think of a better way to restore body-mind as well as stay healthy and active.