Yoga provides benefits for seniors looking to stay active

HARLINGEN — Yoga has been steadily gaining popularity in recent years among all ages.

The practice, with benefits such as creating balance and lowering blood pressure, has found a place in all communities.

Yoga originated in ancient India and combines physical, mental and spiritual practices that focus on breathing and stretching that can be used for muscle relaxation and stress relief.

The practice also can be used as a seaway for seniors looking to lead a more active lifestyle.

Robert Rapp, a 65-year-old retired police officer, has been practicing yoga for the past five years.

“It’s all about relieving stress and getting off the couch,” Rapp said.

He started out with Tai Chi, a form of martial arts that originated in China, before turning to yoga at a teacher’s suggestion.

“The hardest thing about yoga is getting to the front door,” Rapp said.

He attends yoga classes at the Whole Life Wellness Center, 401 E. Filmore Ave. in Harlingen.

The class structure allows for students to work at their own pace, finding versions of the poses that work best for each student.

The Whole Life Wellness Center works with the Silver & Fit Program available through a number of health insurance providers.

Through the program, older adults can take up to 10 free yoga classes per month.

Rapp said the best thing about yoga is the lack of competition and that it is completely individualistic.

“It is self paced, you are not running a race,” Rapp said.

According to Rapp, older adults with joint pain will be able to benefit from yoga.

He said it is all about being able to turn off the television and get off the couch.

“It’s not easy,” Rapp said.

He said walking is also a big part of keeping an active lifestyle.

He recommends those looking to become active to start off slowly.

When he began, Rapp said he could barely walk a block without getting tired.