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Discover the benefits of yoga

The U-M Domino's Farms Fitness Center features a top-notch yoga program

yoga blogMary Armstrong loves yoga. It’s something the 67-year-old has practiced over the years as a way of connecting with her grown daughters.

So when she experienced high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat a few years ago, Mary was happy to discover the rehabilitation program at the University of Michigan Preventive Cardiology Fitness Center at Domino’s Farms included a yoga program. It proved to be a perfect fit for her, both physically and emotionally.

“This yoga program is so different from other classes I’ve taken,” says Mary. “The instructors perform each pose slowly and help us do the poses correctly.” She says the class is challenging, but the instructors are happy to demonstrate modifications whenever necessary.

Mary believes her yoga practice has helped lower her blood pressure, which is monitored before and after each class. “I’m now in the normal range,” she says. The four weekly classes Mary fits into her schedule have also increased her strength and flexibility.

It’s all about a healthy lifestyle

Yoga at the U-M Domino’s Farms Fitness Center is all about a healthy lifestyle, including many psychological and physiological benefits, says Exercise Physiologist Kari Smith, one of three certified yoga instructors who guide participants in a gentle practice to improve flexibility, mobility and range of motion as they move from the floor through standing postures.

“Yoga stresses mindful breathing techniques that promote relaxation and reduce or eliminate stress, a potential risk factor for heart disease,” says Smith. Other benefits, she says, include:

  • Reduction the heart rate and blood pressure
  • Improved circulation
  • Reduced pain for many conditions; e.g., cancer, arthritis, headaches, back and neck pain
  • Strengthened muscles, in particular the muscles around the spine
  • Less age-related weight gain, as yoga encourages a positive self-image
  • Lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels

All of these benefits are important, says Mary, who has “a very high regard for the Fitness Center yoga instructors.” She says she wants to “grow older in a healthy way. It’s important for the aging population to have something that helps them maintain a good self-image. It’s proactive medicine.”

Yoga classes meet in the medically supervised Fitness Center Monday and Wednesday from 7-8 am and Tuesday and Thursday 2:30-3:30 pm.

The cost is $40 per month for unlimited classes. Medical clearance is required prior to entering the program.

For more information or to enroll, contact Kari Smith at 734-998-5670 or visit umcvc.org/yoga.

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Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.