There is no doubt that staying strong and supple into older age has many benefits. Being able to move well keeps you safe, reduces stress, lowers inflammation and reduces the risk of inflammation associated illnesses. It also helps us think more clearly as we run our busy lives.
However, as we battle the daily grind of making a living, running a household, parenting and beyond, often our own physical and mental wellbeing suffers.
Tara Stiles, founder of Strala, a revolutionary method utilising yoga, tai chi, qigong and traditional Chinese medicine, says it is grace and coordination that will most benefit you as you age, rather than pure strength or activities based on force. Her approach makes sense; connect with your body and move mindfully, in harmony and with ease.
“Get good at moving yourself well, with the least amount of effort possible, so you practice coordination and grace – skills you will have when physical strength declines. Having coordination and grace are the fundamentals to being able to accomplish more.”
“As you age, you have to get smarter about what you do and how you do it. For me, the ‘how’ is the most important.”
Tara recommends focusing on efficiency and ease in any exercise, whether that be yoga or weight training, swimming, or any other sport. How you move through one activity is how you move through others, and this translates to your mental state as well.
“How you do one thing is how you do everything. Even in weight training, you can be as efficient as possible. Moving well is a life practice, not limited to one form of exercise,” says Tara.
“Moving well every day helps us feel better and think more clearly too. It’s a sensible and obvious connection when you start practicing connecting your whole self in your movement practice, instead of thinking of your mind and body as separate. Everything, all together, all at once. Bring your whole self with you.”
This sounds fantastic in theory, but how do we all fit in some mindful movement into our everyday lives?
One step at a time. In Tara’s experience, simply starting with a basic 10-minute yoga practice each day is a great step forward. It doesn’t matter when – if you are a morning lark, roll out your mat as soon as you wake. If evenings are when you feel most energised, a short routine when you get home from work may be best for you.
Regular exercise and fostering a healthy mindset has much to do with habits too. To help you move forward, take some time to identify habits you would like to change and work out ways to replace them. Strala offers a library of free resources which may help you; https://stralayoga.teachable.com/courses/category/Free
“When you start one habit, you’ll actually get hooked on feeling good and seek out how to make better choices that make sense for your life,” reassures Tara.
On the topic of moving well and staying strong and healthy, it is also important to mention nutrition. While there is no shortage of information available on what you ‘should do’, Tara’s advice is welcome relief from the overwhelm;
“Health doesn’t need to be overly complicated with lots of potions, practices and designer foods. It’s about getting back to what is the most simple and fresh for you and what works for your lifestyle.”
“Eating natural, unprocessed foods is a perfect start. Having a water with lemon before your morning coffee or getting in the habit of making a simple smoothie at home is wonderful for you. My favourite and most simple smoothie is spinach, banana and almond milk. I add a bit of peanut butter when I need a boost.”
By changing one habit at a time and focusing on the simplicity and grace of moving well, your mind and body will stay strong long into the future.