Looking for a healthy mind and body practice without vigorous jumpings up and down? Try Low-Impact Yoga and give your body gentle stretches.
Do you want to exercise to become healthy but don’t like running a marathon, lifting heavy weights, or jumping up and down? If so, Low-Impact Yoga might be the thing for you.
Low-impact exercises are the ones that are easy on the joints. Many people would consider yoga to be low-impact. But it is not always the case. Nowadays, with so many styles of yoga appearing on the scene, some are anything but low impact.
Take, for example, HIIT Yoga. It is a style of yoga that incorporates HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) movements such as burpees. And burpees, as you know, cause much stress on the knees and low back.
Furthermore, some yoga asanas (poses/postures) can incorrectly impact the joints.
Yin Yoga is an excellent example of low-impact yoga. It doesn’t involve constantly going up and down the mat. Instead, it puts a sustained yet gentle load on the joints, tendons, ligaments, and fascia, which works to increase your flexibility.
Most yoga practitioners tend to be women aged 18 to 40. But anyone can practice yoga, never mind the demographics. All styles of yoga, even Power Yoga, can be modified to work for people with unique bio-mechanics, gender, fitness level and other special needs. So, let’s explore how people, apart from young women, can benefit from yoga.
Low-Impact yoga is suitable for kids. Yoga can increase children’s flexibility and improve muscle strength. But more than that, it can teach kids skills that will help them throughout their lives – such as self-control and emotional regulation.
A study from Tulane University shows that children with anxiety issues improved the quality of their emotional and psycho-social life after receiving yoga therapy.
Another study shows that boys with ADHD improved their behavior and attention span after mindfulness and yoga training.
Low-impact Yoga is suitable for kids. It improves their physical health, behavior, and attention and manages their anxiety.
Low-Impact yoga is suitable for men as well. Women practitioners outnumber men. If only men knew the benefits they could get from yoga.
Men have 10 percent more testosterone than women. That is why they have bulkier and less flexible muscles. Yoga can help men improve their muscles’ flexibility and range of motion.
Yoga can also help men better cope with stress and fight depression. According to one study, men are more susceptible to depression that follows after stress because they lack the skills to handle stress. Yoga and mindfulness training is found to have therapeutic effects on people with depression and anxiety.
Low-Impact yoga is perfect for seniors. It increases the production of synovial fluids in our body, which decreases as we age. As a result, it lubricates the joints, relieves joint pain, and improves seniors’ flexibility and mobility.
Yoga is also perfect for seniors because it improves their memory. According to a study, practicing yoga positively affects seniors’ brain function. As a result, it can improve their memory and mitigate age-related problems.
A low-Impact Yoga, such as Yin, is excellent for people. However, if you need more convincing, here are five more reasons.
There’s no denying that yoga can improve your flexibility, regardless of your style. But doing a low-impact yoga class like Yin will increase your range of motion differently. Yin Yoga does this by stretching your fascia instead of your muscles.
Fascia is the connective tissue that is found everywhere in your body. It connects, encircles, and separates muscles, organs, and the spinal cord. It needs regular stimulation because the body needs it to move. Therefore, sustained and constant stress stimulates the fascia by stretching it. Yin Yoga stretches the fascia because you hold the poses for at least three minutes.
Do you want to meditate but can’t sit comfortably for a few minutes? Have you always wanted to gain the benefits of meditation, but you can’t seem to stop this constant mind chatter? Then you might like practicing Low-Impact Yoga.
Most Low-Impact Yoga sequences are gentle and focus more on breathing and meditation than flowing through different yoga asanas. Because you hold your poses for longer than a few rounds of breath, you will have time to notice your breath and the sensations you feel. As a result, you will improve your mindfulness in the same way you will improve it when sitting in meditation for a few minutes.
Yoga is excellent and all. Most of us know this because it has been around since 2700 B.C. But did you understand that yoga can improve your listening skills? This particular benefit of yoga practice doesn’t get mentioned much, but it should!
For a start, in Yin and other styles of yoga, you have to listen to your instructor giving verbal cues on how to move your body. This may not sound too difficult. But wait till you’re in a complex and challenging pose such as Warrior 3 or the Eagle Pose. Situations like this make us appreciate the need to focus and listen intently and, as a result, develop our listening skills.
Yoga also helps us listen more attentively to our internal voice. In most yoga classes, the instructors tell us to listen to our body, mind, or intuition. Regularly doing this improves our internal listening skills. Thus, we will become more aware of ourselves.
Low-Impact yoga can also make you stronger. Fitness is not all about lifting weights, running distances, and jumping up and down. It incorporates other things, such as muscle endurance and flexibility.
Low-Impact yoga can improve muscle strength and endurance, even if it’s a slow practice. For example, staying in the Locust Pose requires strong muscles in the posterior chain. The longer you stay in this pose, the longer it must endure the stress you give it. Hence, it improves muscle endurance.
In addition, with low-impact yoga, you don’t have to sweat like a dog to achieve physical fitness. In fact, in Yin yoga, you practice with your body cold.
Yoga enhances the brain’s neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to rewire itself, adapt and change.
When your body tells you you cannot endure the discomfort of staying in a yoga asana, you can activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This part of the brain slows down your breath and heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and promotes digestion. It is also the part that helps your body relax in stressful situations. You can tap it by breathing slowly and deeply, which you usually do in yoga. Consequently, your brain adapts to stressful situations and becomes more resilient.
Now that you know the reasons you want to do Low-Impact Yoga, let’s get started. Here are some yoga asanas you can practice anywhere.
Supported Bridge Pose or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana increases the flexibility of your lumbar spine. It also opens up the hip flexors. To practice this asana:
- Lay down on your back. Bring your heels close to your sitting bones.
- Extend your arms to your sides with the palms facing up.
- Lift your hips and place a stack of books or a yoga block under your sacrum.
- Stay in this pose for as long as comfortable while being mindful of your breath.
- To make this pose more challenging, remove the props under your sacrum.
- To deepen the backbend, put more props under your sacrum to lift the hips higher.
- If it is too stressful on your low back, adjust the height of the prop under your sacrum.
The tabletop looks like a comfortable posture. That’s because most people don’t do it properly. The tabletop effectively improves the strength of your core and your stabilizers. To do this pose:
- Come down on your hands and knees on the mat. Keep your hands at a shoulder-width distance and spread your fingers wide.
- Check your knees. Make sure they are as wide as your hips.
- Engage your core and keep the back straight.
- Stay in this posture for at least five rounds of breath.
- If you feel pressure on your knees and wrists, place a folded blanket or towel under them.
Toe squat strengthens your ankles. It also stretches your calves and toes. Here’s how to do this pose:
- Begin by sitting on your heels with your knees and heels together.
- Tuck your toes under your buttocks. Distribute your weight evenly on the balls of your feet and the edges.
- Keep your back tall and erect, and rest your hands on your lap.
- Stay in this pose for five rounds of breath or more.
- Put a folded blanket under you if you feel the pressure from the knees rubbing on the mat.
- Stand up if you feel too much pressure on the knees and the muscle in front of your shin. Once you think you can handle it, return to the pose.
- Put a rolled-up towel or blanket between your buttocks and calves if you feel pressure on the knees from the flexion.
Deer is a Yin Yoga posture that is effective for improving both hips’ internal and external rotation at the same time. It relieves hip and lower back pain. Here’s how to do the Deer pose:
- Start by sitting on your sitting bones and extending your legs forward. Then bend your knees to bring the feet close to your buttocks. Your feet should be as wide as your mat.
- Bring both knees to the right. Try to bring your knees on the ground and keep your knees and ankles parallel.
- Stay in this pose for at least three minutes, then do it on the other side.
- If the knees don’t reach the ground, rest your knees on top of a block.
- If you want to deepen the stretch, fold forward.
Locust or Salabhasana
The Locust pose or Salabhasana, is an excellent beginner backbend. It strengthens all the muscles in the back body and improves the extension of your lumbar spine. To practice this posture:
- Lie on your belly and keep your arms to your side.
- Draw your shoulders down and keep them away from the ears.
- Lift the chest, arms and legs off the mat.
- Stay in this pose for three to five rounds of breath.
- If lifting the upper and lower body simultaneously is too much for you, then raise your chest.
- If you want to open your chest more, interlace the fingers together at the back.
Yoga is not the only low-impact exercise you can do to improve your health. Let’s compare yoga with other low-impact exercises.
Swimming is an effective, low-impact exercise. Because you are in the water, the joints don’t go through much impact. It’s also great for improving your cardiovascular health. Of course, you can get these benefits from yoga as well. But unlike yoga, swimming doesn’t improve your flexibility.
Walking is another low-impact exercise that everyone can enjoy for significant health benefits. It is a cardiovascular workout. Hence, it can improve your heart health. Walking also improves joint and muscle strength, just like yoga. However, it doesn’t increase your range of motion the way yoga can.
Another low-impact exercise that offers almost all the benefits of yoga is cycling. Cycling increases cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. It also strengthens your bones and helps you relieve stress. However, cycling doesn’t help increase your flexibility as yoga does.
Low-Impact yoga can improve your overall health. However, it’s not enough to improve your overall fitness. It is excellent if you are starting your health and wellness journey. But once your body gets used to the stress low-impact yoga gives, it will stop improving. So, when you don’t feel challenged in your yoga practice, it’s time to transition to a more intense and challenging exercise. Here’s how to do it:
Yin and low-impact yoga need to be balanced with high-impact exercises. One way of doing this is to add Yang exercises such as Plank, Chaturanga and Inversions to your gentle yoga flows.
Another way to do it is to practice High Impact exercises or Yang Yoga, such as Ashtanga Yoga on some days and Yin or other gentle types on others.
A good plan would be to schedule three days of Yang and two days of Yin or Gentle Yoga. Use the remaining two days of the week for recovery.
You can make your Low-Impact Yoga more challenging by adding more resistance while doing the postures. You can use a resistance band or dumbbells. Below are some examples:
- Chair Pose with a resistance band around your thighs or shins or with dumbbells in each hand.
- Using dumbbells for bicep curls in Mountain Pose.
- Using dumbbells for a chest press while in Bridge Pose.
Weightlifting and Crossfit are exercise systems that will improve your overall physical fitness. However, these systems are challenging and intense and may cause soreness. You can practice yoga as your active recovery after your Weightlifting or CrossFit session. Doing this can help in relieving Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
Many styles of yoga, such as Yin, are low-impact but high in benefits. Do it regularly, and your body and mind will thank you.
Want to start teaching low impact yoga classes? Sign up for our Online Yin Yoga Teacher Training Course.