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Age limit on yoga extremely flexible

May 10th, 2012
Zoë Sophos

The health benefits of yoga can stretch far beyond those of more traditional exercises, according to Dr. Marie Bernard, deputy director of the National Institute on Aging. In a new video posted on NIA’s website Bernard demonstrated the ease of yoga, explaining that yoga can strengthen both the body and the mind, providing a unique form of exercise for all ages and skill levels.

“This is a wonderful form of exercise,” Bernard said. “It allows me to get flexibility, balance, muscle strengthening, meditation, (and) it has an aerobic component to it, if you’re doing a flow rapidly. It’s everything.”

The NIA is part of the National Institute of Health and conducts research on the nature of aging, extending life and the general health of adults. Before becoming the deputy director of the NIA in 2008, Bernard was a practicing geriatrician for 28 years and a member of the National Advisory Council on Aging. She opened her own hot yoga studio a little over two years ago. Hot yoga is a style of yoga done in a heated room to increase an individual’s flexibility and provide a challenging aerobic workout.

Bernard points out that yoga can be practiced indoors or out, alone or in a group, with music, videotapes, or television shows, and even away from home, providing a convenience that few other exercise activities rival. Also, yoga can be adapted for any age, making it an easy way to gain balance and prevent the risk of falls as one gets older. 

“I would say that yoga is a form of exercise that one can likely do to the end of one’s days,” Bernard says. “It’s low impact and yet has multiple benefits.”