By Matt Evans published
Yoga's great. We've said it time and time again: it's an amazing practise, whether you're doing some simple ten-minute stretches at home or 90-minute long classes standing on your head. It's excellent for promoting strength, range of motion, relaxation and positive mental health benefits thanks to its unique mix of mindfulness principles, core workouts and stretching.
If you're thinking of unrolling your yoga mat (and if you've not got one yet, it's worth checking out our best yoga mats list), you should know it's suitable for all comers. In fact, yoga is particularly suitable for older adults: one study from the National Institute of Health Research found yoga can improve both physical health-related quality of life and mental well-being in adults over 60.
The stretching and mobility aspect is key for adults in which age is weakening and shortening muscles, while older adults can become at risk for symptoms of depression and anxiety. Yoga has been found to keep these symptoms at bay.
It's this aspect of yoga which is, arguably, the most important: yoga can make you happier. To that effect, we've tapped yogi Cat Taylor to film a 30-minute "yoga for happiness" routine, exclusively for Fit&Well. Originally broadcast as an Instagram live, you can check out and follow along to the 30-minute flow below.
Watch Cat Taylor's yoga flow for happiness below:
Why do this workout?
This session is very much about stretching out and releasing tension from our tired arms,shoulders and neck, which take a battering when we're all stuck at home hunched over our computers. It also incorporates breathing exercises designed to influence the brain, inducing a feeling of calmness from which you can start developing positivity.
Cat says: "The reason we slow down our breath is not just for the fun of it, but that it creates a feedback loop, slowing down our heart rate. Our lungs are expanding and squashing back down in a much slower way, and this feedback loop from the heart and lungs tells the brain whatever's happening, either internally or externally, is ok and it's calm.
"You can use this technique any time to have a little moment of calm, and it's a great breeding ground for a little bit of happiness to develop in the body. You'll be amazed at how quickly this technique will allow you to feel calmer and more grounded – the first step to bring about happiness."
Yin yoga is particularly suited to older adults. Unlike more dynamic variations of yoga which require fast position changes and great core strength, Yin is all about being slow and still, holding positions for a long period of time to place more gentle, healthy stress on muscles and joints. Feel like you could do more? We've compiled a list of good starting stretching exercises to really loosen up.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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