Mastering New Skills for Optimal Health
A 2015 article in Fitness Magazine titled Why Aren’t More Women Lifting Weights? stresses that despite the universally acknowledged health benefits of resistance training, from reducing blood pressure to warding off arthritis and strengthening bones, muscle, and connective tissue, only a third of the almost 13 million women who belong to health clubs lift free weights.
Yet over the last year, a seriously fun group of women (average age 53) have gathered on Thursday mornings at 8:15 at the Bindu to practice yoga, pranayama (breath work), yoga using free weights, and interval cardio health through walk/jogging.
Re-read that last sentence! Do you know how cool that is? We have been our own guinea pigs and this class has become one of our favorites at The Bindu.
Adding to Yoga for Optimal Health
The Yoga + Walk + Weights class targets our innately sneaky tendencies to bypass various muscles to compensate for weakness and imbalances in our bodies. We don’t tend to be conscious of a muscle or muscle group not firing/activating properly in a pose. Consequently we work around it in ways that perpetuate imbalance and the propensity for injury. Learning good alignment while breathing well and using weights is a great re-education for the mind/body connection.
Think of yoga as how you live your life from moment to moment. Being able to assess your own habitual patterns of movement and breathing and able to acquire new skills for improvement takes a commitment to building awareness. Without awareness we fall into that popular definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results!
As yoga practitioners and active, vibrant people, we can be surprised by age-related loss in muscle mass, bone density issues, as well as the effects of natural hormonal and metabolism changes. I remember the year I realized that all the good stuff I did to be strong, supple, and healthy (yoga, pranayama, meditation, and walking) was no longer enough. Two ways I have helped myself feel strong and vital again are adding yoga with free weights and interval walk/jogging.
Why Lift Weights?
Resistance training researcher William Kraemer, PhD, a kinesiologist at the University of Connecticut school of Medicine, has published dozens of studies extolling the virtues of resistance training. Aside from expected benefits like improving muscle tone, bone density, athletic performance and strength, Dr. Kraemer points out that resistance training helps fight the aging process by maintaining lean muscle tissue and that women who regularly lift weights have better self-esteem and get sick less often. (Read more about this study in this article.)
Student Ann Brindisi, the most vibrant 68-year young person I know states, ”I have been a part of this (Yoga + Walk + Weights) class with Kelley from the beginning. We build core, upper body and leg strength and I have better balance and stamina. It has definitely helped me with other yoga classes, too. I can sustain poses like plank or side plank longer and with more confidence. I’m not a jogger, but I do walk briskly. Yes, we sweat, but we benefit greatly and the laughter and comraderie are exceptional.” (Note: We work indoors if it is too cold or raining)
Mastering new skills for optimal health is a worthwhile plan for 2016. Change it up, try something new at The Bindu, and I’ll see you on the mat!