Yoga and Aging: The Benefits of Yoga as We Get Older

As we get older, we find ourselves looking for ways to offset the day to day effects of aging. For some, it’s as simple as wanting to reduce the little aches and pains that creep into our days. For others, the goal might be to build strength and mobility to move through life with ease. Or, we may be looking for ways to manage stress and build a mindfulness practice into our daily routine so we enjoy and appreciate our life. Whatever your individual goals, the phrase “active aging” may hold the key.

According to the International Council on Active Aging, active aging means staying fully engaged with life in seven dimensions of wellness—physical activity and spiritual pursuits are two of them. By staying active, you can continue to lead a healthy life at any age or stage without losing mobility or your balance. Yoga is a popular way to help you achieve these goals. 

MOVE Instructor Shannon Walter teaching yoga for healthy aging

Benefits of Yoga as You Age

A well rounded exercise routine will help you continue to do the things you love in life. Yoga is often the first thing people think of to facilitate healthy aging with a wide range of benefits. A lot of times, we hear people say that they just need to stretch more. Yoga comes to mind quickly when they think about how to solve this problem. Truthfully, the practice of yoga does help the body stay flexible and as we age—an important aspect of staying balanced and mobile. But there are many other benefits of a regular yoga practice. It can be an important part of a well rounded fitness plan.  

Let’s break it down. First, when we practice yoga we are stretching and opening the body by moving into and holding poses to help keep the joints mobile and strong. Moving regularly can help minimize inflammation to keep day-to-day aches and pain away. Beyond the muscular system, breathing and mindfulness are at the top of the benefits list for ways yoga can help us combat the physiological impact of stress. When we can reduce stress and increase breathing and mindfulness we stand to sleep better and maintain healthy blood pressure. And finally, in practicing yoga the deep focus on the movements and sensations of the body will build awareness and keep you mentally sharp.

MOVE instructor Shannon teaching yoga for healthy aging

Fewer Aches and Pains

Who doesn’t want to feel better throughout the day? A yoga class will help you mobilize all the joints in your body as you move through specific poses, or asanas. Bringing circulation to each part of the body will help it stay supple and minimize inflammation. This can be one cause of simple muscle aches and pains. Stretching your legs, hips, back, and shoulders will help you bring your muscular system into balance. When you move during your day doing all the things you enjoy, all your muscles will be trained to join in and participate offering your body more support. We know that the more you move the better you feel.  

Strength, Mobility, and Balance

A yoga practice can help you manage the activities of daily living by keeping your body resilient and strong. Moving through the asanas and stretching your body in a variety of ways helps keep your tissues supple—including muscles, ligaments and tendons, and all the connective tissues or fascia. That might sound complicated, but it all comes down to building strength and mobility throughout your body. By getting stronger, we will improve our balance safely and keep our body resilient. We will be more responsive to catching ourselves if we momentarily lose our balance. As we age this can be crucial in preventing injuries caused by a stumble or fall. Yoga also promotes increased circulation and oxygenation of the body which will help you feel energized and refreshed after a great class. 

MOVE instructor Shannon Walter teaching yoga for healthy aging

Breathing and Awareness

Yoga has a long history associated with a religious or spiritual practice. Over time, yoga has evolved to allow us to participate in a way that connects us to the truth of what’s in our own heart and who we are in the moment. For some of us this may feel more universally approachable and accessible. As we practice this idea of deeply listening to ourselves, we can foster self-compassion and self-love and bridge the truths of our miraculous body and our lives. Who wouldn’t want healthy movement, peace, and energy all tied together into one practice? 

A key component of any yoga practice is mindful breathing. As we breathe we also focus on how we breathe and even different types of breath practice. This can help minimize the physiological impact of stress, reduce blood pressure, and calm anxiety. Breathing well and fully will also help your pelvic floor and core muscles work organically to bring tone to the muscles that support a healthy trunk and strong back. By really tuning into our breath throughout our yoga practice, we will steadily improve our focus and concentration. Following the guidance of a great teacher we will build awareness of the sensations of the body that can help us meaningfully tune in to how we feel day to day. 

Yoga Classes for Healthy Aging

There are a lot of different yoga classes out there to choose from. If you’re ready to see how yoga can enhance your movement routine, step one is getting permission from your physician so you can exercise safely. Finding a class that helps you move at a level appropriate for you is important. Many of them can be adapted for any level of movement and for different populations. This article is a really nice primer describing the different types of yoga—from Restorative to Hatha or Vinyasa and anything in between, this will help you decide where to start. There are so many options, including livestream classes with a real-time instructor, recorded on-demand to practice at your own convenience, or in-person group fitness in a studio. 

We like to recommend starting with a Gentle Yoga class if you’re unsure what level you might be comfortable with. You can also reach out to the teacher beforehand directly to help you choose.  If you have balance issues or difficulty getting down on the floor, a chair yoga class may work best until you get more steady on your feet. Or, an osteoporosis-safe yoga class may be best for those with that issue. Speaking to the instructor before class is particularly important if you have any health issues or injuries. They might have advice or modifications to help you feel comfortable and safe throughout class. Always stop if you feel any pain or discomfort and seek medical advice before going any further.

MOVE instructor Shannon Walter teaching yoga for healthy aging

Yoga at MOVE Wellness in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Join us for interactive, livestream yoga and meditation classes with MOVE Wellness Studios. Our classes are designed to meet a variety of client needs and represent a practice that speaks from the teacher’s heart. At MOVE, we pride ourselves on creating a welcoming environment. We strive to empower each client on their personal path to fitness and wellness. As we’ve learned through this article, there are many effective yoga systems. We offer diverse classes that are accessible to all people. 

Our Gentle Yoga class moves at a slow to moderate pace. Traditional yoga concepts are introduced in a format that is clear and easy to understand. You’ll practice poses with an emphasis on breathing, physical awareness and relaxation. This will allow you to increase strength and flexibility while relieving stress. 

Our Rest and Restore Class (Yoga Nidra) features gentle movements and relaxation techniques. These movements are designed to relieve muscular tension, calm the nervous system and quiet the mind.

We also offer a guided Mindfulness and Meditation opportunity. This non-movement class focuses on various techniques such as body scans, breath awareness and mantras to help focus the mind and be present in the moment. 

You Can Start Now

With MOVE Livestream, you’ll enjoy yoga classes and more with our expert instructors from the comfort of your own home. Let us help you find the class that’s right for you. Get started today with a 14 day free trial!

The latest blog from Elaine Economou with tips to maximize your online fitness classes is now posted on the popular website, Sixty and Me.

How has your fitness routine changed in the last 14 months? The global pandemic has uprooted our usual habits and has us exercising more inside our homes. This blog will touch on the evolution of online fitness, as well as:

  • Walk you through some popular online fitness options.
  • Help you feel ready to safely workout on your own.
  • Offer advice for how to get the most out of your online workout experience.

9 Tips for Online Fitness Classes

We polled our awesome staff of trainers and compiled their best advice. They teach everything from Pilates to barre, yoga, HIIT and more, and have been teaching classes online since the very beginning of the pandemic. The most common suggestion is turn on your camera. Some people are understandably shy about having the camera on, but movement instructors really love to see you move! The instructor can really personalize your experience if they can see you in real time. 

Online Fitness Tips

  1. Choose the right place to exercise
  2. Don’t be late
  3. Listen to your body
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  5. Eliminate distractions
  6. Establish a routine
  7. Put your class in your calendar
  8. Turn your camera on
  9. Learn what works for you

Read the full blog for all the great tips from our staff. Online fitness is here to stay. It’s incredibly convenient and can even connect you to a community of people with similar interests. Whatever fitness path you choose, we hope you’ll keep moving.

Move more, feel better

See for yourself what Pilates can do for you from the comfort of your own home. MOVE Wellness offers a free 14 day trial of our livestream classes with over 40 to choose from weekly. We are also welcoming clients into our Ann Arbor, MI studio for private training sessions. Whichever path is right for you, support the activities you love to do in life by starting your personal Pilates journey today!

About Elaine Economou

Elaine Economou

Elaine Economou helps people move with ease, strength, and joy. Her passion is empowering people to understand their unique bodies to build strength, and do more of what they love. As co-founder of MOVE Wellness®, Elaine leads a global movement community of clients in high-caliber, in-studio, and interactive livestream training

Find all of Elaine’s Sixty and Me blogs on her author page.

ANN ARBOR – MOVE Trainer Sammy Hart talks about her Yoga origins and how mindful movement like Yoga and Pilates can create a path towards a profoundly simple human experience. Read about Sammy below or schedule a session with her today!

Introduce yourself.

My full name is Samantha Lynn Hart, and I’m originally from Toronto but have been in Michigan for about 5 years now which is kind of crazy. I love nature and travel, combining the two frequently throughout the past years with many road trips around the US, Canada, and New Zealand last year. I’m a voracious reader and love to cook. I’ve been a movement teacher since 2012, and it’s been a never ending journey of studentship since then.

It’s funny, people will ask me where I got my certification from and I don’t know what to say because it’s such a long winded answer with so many outlets and avenues. I think if you’re in this work there’s a baseline of education but then sky’s the limit to what we learn. Most recently, I obtained a certificate for Yoga for Scoliosis Part 1. Part 2 is in the works, which is pretty great considering I live with someone with scoliosis and can help him a little bit more now.   

Why is movement important to you?

Movement is necessary for me. I would be such a jerk without it, and I move for so many reasons but the simple answer is I feel better when I do. That doesn’t mean I do a 90-minute yoga practice every day, but I do try to move daily, which might entail a walk in Bird Hills with Rach, a class with Angela, or a sweaty weight lifting session.

I try – and try is the keyword – to move in a way that feels right for my body on that particular day, and every day is different. I also want my life to be an adventure, and I think health and wellness are pretty necessary for that to happen.

What is it about the mindfulness element of movement that is powerful?

There is something to movement with breath and I think that’s why I am drawn to mindful movement. It’s one thing to go to the gym and run for miles, weight lift, or even to take a class at MOVE, but it’s always the question of how much are you present for? And how much of it are you feeling? Are you listening to your body? I think mindful movement gives us an opportunity to truly be with our bodies and I think that’s such a rare gift to give ourselves. At least for me it is.

I’ve always been an active person. I remember doing those old-school workout videos with my mom when I was younger, and I ran for a lot of my life but yoga was the first form of movement that left me feeling so much more.

Guiding is something you do daily, whether that is teaching clients individually, classes, at workshops, or through the use of social media. Do you notice any larger lessons that often arise?

Every situation of teaching is so different. When I’m with clients, it’s just so individual.  In a class, I’m hoping for connection. With workshops, I’m just trying to keep my anxiety in check and teach mindful movement, but I think a common theme with anything I do is that you feel good, feel connected, feel strong, feel.

What inspires you?

Ai, inspiration. Well, I’ll forever be inspired by my teacher YuMee Chung because she continues to raise the bar on what it means to be not just a good teacher but a good human.  Currently, I’m inspired with eastern medicine and its application into western medicine. I’m inspired by those who live their dreams. MOVE inspires me. I’m surrounded by pretty powerful woman, and that’s inspiring.

“Feel connected, feel strong, feel.”

Sammy Hart is a Yoga and Pilates instructor at MOVE Wellness in Ann Arbor, MI. To contact Sammy or book a session with her, email or call 734.761.2306.

Last week, we joined yoga trainer Shannon Walter in a conversation about yoga nidra. This week, we’re diving into how yoga nidra actually feels. What can you can expect from a class? And more!

L: in the video I watched, Dr. Desai says, “yoga nidra gives us the space to choose our reactions to our thoughts.” And I thought that was really beautiful because that concept seems like it’s not only fundamental to yoga– that mindfulness aspect–but yoga nidra seems like a mindfulness on steroi

S: Well it is. There’s this piece about witnessing. You’re not your thoughts. You’re not your ego. You are the witness of those things. You can detach from it. And in yoga in general the philosophy of it is “You’re not your body. Your body is an aspect of your existence.” For most people, they think, this body is me. But yoga nidra is saying, it’s not you. There’s this self that actually we’re all a part. So it’s like how do you get beyond that? It could be that consciousness or that quiet.

L: When I was listening to that I thought about how when I’m driving and someone makes me mad. That would be a great practical moment to have a tool like this  Or when you hear really bad news. You can step back and you’re like, “Okay this how I’m feeling; this is how I’m going to choose to react.”

S: Right! I totally understand that some people may be put off and think oh that’s kooky yoga stuff. But It’s actually a tool that can relax people.

L: Yeah I’ve heard it’s been used for PTSD patients. And I’m sure with mental illness in general it can be beneficial.

S: I would not be surprised.

L: How do you teach yoga nidra and what can we expect from your class?

S: I teach it from my heart! I think it’s a beautiful practice, and hopefully you can expect find a little bit of peace and maybe a little bit more quiet. A little decompression.

L: How long is it?

S: It can be five minutes. In the workshop we’re gonna do stretching because you need your body to be a little bit quiet to take energy inside. The practice itself will be about 40 to 45 minutes. But there’s long pauses. There’s a lot of quiet time.

L: So it can be five minutes?

You’re basically taking components. You can take one component and do that. Focusing on the breathe. Counting from 27 to 1 as you inhale and exhale.

L: With practice, going from that place of big to small, do you get faster the more you do it, or is it always a step-by-step process?

S: It can be anything. Like working out, do you want to have an hour long workout or do you want a 15 minute workout?

L: Ah, I understand. Is there music?
S: Noo. No you don’t want anything. The only sensory input you want is the instructor guiding you. You don’t want candles. You don’t want light. You don’t want music. It’s like single pointed concentration.

L: Do you reach a point where you feel like you’re floating? 

S: There might be a weightlessness. It’s a less of a connection to your body. One thing I love about yoga. Yoga is very systematic practice. And yoga nidra is a very systematic practice for relation and quieting the mind.


Everyone tells us “You need to relax! You need to de-stress.” Okay, well how do I do that?

MOVE member Lorena sat down with yoga nidra practitioner and instructor Shannon Walter for a conversation about yoga nidra benefits and ways in which beginners can get involved. Shannon teaches yoga nidra as a specialty class at MOVEWe’re excited to bring you yoga nidra, because in addition to Pilates and GYROTONIC®, which encourage mindfulness in the physical sense, yoga nidra brings you even deeper emotional and physiological awareness.

 “If you feel stress, join us.” – Elaine Economou, MOVE Wellness Owner 

L: I watched a video from Amrit Yoga in which Dr. Kamini Desai talks about yoga nidra as being “emptying progressively contents of the mind” She says, unlike in meditation where you are aiming for awareness, in yoga nidra, “you are awareness yourself.” Does this resonate with you?

S: So yoga nidra is basically a systematic practice to release tension and stress from the body, the body, and the emotions. Like in layers, it goes from large (physical), then you work on the breathe, which is more subtle, and then you go into visualization. It’s a progression. It’s going from macro to micro.

L: Talk more on “being awareness itself”

S: Way back when yoga nidra was created as a system to explore those levels of consciousness to find self-realization, which is a key aspect of the yoga practice… but it is a great tool just for stress relief. For going to sleep.

L: Well I think that’s really powerful because for beginners…we can be hesitant to try these things. You hear ‘meditation’ and some think ‘okay that’s for yogis or zen people. I can’t do that… I don’t have time do that.” So is yoga nidra something even beginners can jump right into?

S: 100%! You can do it in 5-10 minutes. You can take it as a break at work. It’s just tools.

L: I was reading that yoga nidra is “sleep-based.” Is it similar to sleep?

S: Basically even when you sleep, except for the very deep sleep, your mind is still churning. So with the progression you get to a point where your mind isn’t really churning anymore. You’re quiet.

L: The restorative aspect of yoga nidra – is that the aim to get to this space?

S: I would say, you are systematically quieting your system. Instead of everything going out you’re turning everything in and quieting. And when you’re in that quiet place, if there is something you want to affirm or incorporate in your life, you’re in a prime position to be able to fully receive that thing.

Click here for part 2!