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High-intensity workouts are often popular when it comes to fitness trends, but did you know taking a slower and more mindful approach to exercise has numerous health and wellbeing benefits?

When you think about your fitness goals, you might envision intense workouts and long cardio sessions. However, research suggests taking a gentler, more deliberate approach to exercise may be the key to enhancing strength and overall wellbeing. If slow and steady is more your style, ‘slow fitness’ may be for you. 

Slow fitness is a workout philosophy that emphasizes mindful, deliberate movements and a steady pace, focusing on quality over quantity. It prioritizes form, control, and breath, making it accessible for people of all fitness levels, including beginners and those recovering from injuries. Here are some key aspects of slow fitness:

  1. Mindfulness: Slow fitness encourages being fully present during the workout, paying attention to how your body feels and moves.

  2. Controlled Movements: Exercises are performed slowly and deliberately, which helps in enhancing muscle engagement and preventing injuries.

  3. Breath Focus: Proper breathing techniques are emphasized, often aligning breath with movement to improve oxygen flow and concentration.

  4. Form and Technique: Emphasis is placed on correct form and technique, ensuring that each movement is performed correctly to maximize benefits and minimize risk.

  5. Reduced Impact: Often involves low-impact exercises, making it suitable for individuals with joint issues or those who prefer a gentler approach to fitness.

  6. Holistic Approach: Can include elements of yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and other practices that promote flexibility, strength, and mental well-being.

Slow fitness is ideal for those looking to improve their health and fitness in a sustainable, mindful manner, allowing for a deeper connection with their bodies and a greater sense of overall well-being.

In a world that often equates youth with vitality, the notion of starting or maintaining a yoga practice past the age of 50 might seem daunting to some. However, the truth is, yoga knows no age limits. In fact, it's precisely as we journey through the years that the benefits of yoga become even more profound and necessary. Here’s why everyone, especially those over 50, should consider embracing yoga as a vital component of their wellness routine.

First and foremost, yoga is a holistic practice that nurtures the mind, body, and spirit. As we age, maintaining flexibility, strength, and balance becomes increasingly important in preventing injuries and maintaining overall health. Yoga postures, or asanas, gently stretch and strengthen muscles, lubricate joints, and improve posture, all of which are essential for staying active and mobile well into our later years.

Beyond the physical benefits, yoga offers a sanctuary for mental well-being. Life after 50 often brings with it a myriad of transitions – retirement, empty nesting, perhaps even the loss of loved ones. Yoga provides a safe space to navigate these changes with grace and resilience. Through mindful breathing and meditation practices, individuals can cultivate a sense of inner peace, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance their overall quality of life.

Moreover, yoga is a practice of self-discovery and acceptance. As we age, our bodies inevitably change, and with those changes may come a sense of disconnect or dissatisfaction. Yoga encourages us to meet ourselves exactly where we are, without judgment or comparison. By embracing our bodies with compassion and gratitude, we can foster a deep sense of self-love and acceptance that transcends age.

Additionally, yoga offers a sense of community and belonging, which becomes increasingly important as we age. Attending classes or joining yoga groups provides opportunities for social interaction and connection with like-minded individuals. These communities not only offer support and encouragement but also create a sense of camaraderie and belonging that is invaluable, especially in later stages of life.

Furthermore, yoga is a practice that can be tailored to individual needs and abilities. Whether you're a seasoned yogi or a complete beginner, there is a style of yoga and a level of intensity that is suitable for you. Gentle or restorative yoga classes offer a nurturing environment for those with physical limitations or health concerns, while more dynamic styles such as vinyasa or power yoga provide opportunities for challenge and growth.

Importantly, yoga is a practice that is accessible to everyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or physical ability. With the guidance of a knowledgeable instructor, modifications can be made to accommodate individual needs and ensure a safe and enjoyable practice. Whether practiced in a studio, gym, or the comfort of your own home, yoga can be easily integrated into daily life, making it a sustainable and lifelong pursuit.

In conclusion, yoga is not just for the young and agile; it is a practice that is especially beneficial for those over 50. By incorporating yoga into our lives, we can nurture our bodies, calm our minds, and nourish our spirits, allowing us to age gracefully and embrace the fullness of life's journey. So, whether you're 50, 60, or beyond, roll out your mat, take a deep breath, and discover the transformative power of yoga.

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Most of us are so consumed with the thousands of thoughts, distractions, worries, pressures each day brings, we have forgotten how to disengage. Meditation allows us to step off the roundabout occasionally and find some peace. The ‘body scan’ meditation is one of my favourites.

Body scan meditation is a mindfulness practice that involves systematically bringing attention to different parts of the body, usually starting from the toes and gradually moving up to the head, but you can start with the face and head and move down the body as well. The purpose of this meditation is to cultivate present-moment awareness, relaxation, and a deeper connection with the body.

When you practice any form of mindfulness, or meditation, if you find your mind wandering off into thoughts, at any time, this is normal, so you try to let go of those recurring thoughts, or sound distractions and steer your mind back to the present moment, in this case, it will be a part of your body. Each time you break the link from these distracting thoughts, you are taking a step towards a calmer mind.

Here's how a typical body scan meditation might be practised,

Preparation: Find a comfortable and quiet space where you can lie down or sit comfortably. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so. Try to let the body release, letting go of any tight, contracting muscles and feeling the effect of gravity, and heaviness, of your body. You are going to be still for a few minutes, so welcome that sensation.

Start by bringing your attention to your breath. Take a few deep breaths, allowing yourself to relax and settle into the present moment, then allow yourself to breathe naturally, without any control and notice that when you release breath, the body relaxes a little.

Direct your attention to your feet. Notice any sensations you may feel, such as warmth, tingling, or pressure. As you inhale, imagine breathing into your feet, bringing a sense of relaxation and ease with the release of your breath, you might try to visualise your feet, feel their weight and orientation, the touch of the floor, or clothing, or the toes together.

Slowly move your attention up through your body, one body part at a time. Pay attention to each area without movement, simply noticing any sensations, tension, or discomfort that may arise. Perhaps compare the sensations in one side of the body to the other, without any judgement or reaction, just noticing. As you progress, release any tension that you may be holding.

Moving upwards, continue scanning through each part of the body, such as the legs, hips, abdomen, chest, arms, hands, shoulders, neck, and head. Take your time with each area, allowing yourself to fully experience the sensations present. Pay attention to any areas where you might carry tension, or are tight, the shoulders, the pelvic basin, the jaw. If you feel yourself holding anywhere, try to soften and release with the breath.

As you scan each body part, observe any tension or areas of tightness. With each exhale, imagine releasing any tension or holding in that area, allowing it to soften and relax.

Once you have scanned through the entire body, take a few moments to bring your attention back to your breath. Notice how your body feels as a whole and observe any changes in the rt end depth of your breathing. Feel the heaviness again of the body and the pull of gravity. Return to any part of your body where you may hold tension and see if this has returned, when our mind drifts onto thoughts, this may have a consequential tightening of the body.

When you're ready, gently bring your awareness back to your surroundings. Wiggle your fingers and toes, stretch your body if needed, and slowly open your eyes.

Body scan meditation can be practiced for varying lengths of time, ranging from a few minutes to longer, depending on your preference and availability. Regular practice of body scan meditation can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, improve body awareness, and cultivate mindfulness in daily life.


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