The Benefits of GYROKINESIS® for Older Adults
By: Stephanie Ruopp
If you’ve always been fitness-minded, you may remember fondly the days when you could move your body this way and that and not give it a second thought.
Of course, as we age, it’s important that we keep on moving. Yet, we also have to start giving consideration to the ways we move. And not every exercise method is sensitive to our specific needs.
Fortunately, there’s GYROKINESIS®. And the benefits of GYROKINESIS® for older adults are impressive – to say the least.
What is GYROKINESIS®?
Developed by Juliu Horvath, the GYROKINESIS® method is a modern and gentle form of yoga that serves to increase spinal mobility in all directions. It incorporates movements on a mat, stool or chair with an emphasis on circular and wavelike motions of the body.
These movements focus on the seven natural elements of spinal movement: forward, backward, left side, right side, left twist, right twist and circular. They also work to articulate other joints. The movements are done mindfully and systematically; gently working the joints and muscles through rhythmic and undulating movements.
In addition, the movements stimulate the body’s internal organs while integrating different corresponding breathing patterns. And rather than holding postures for a long time, they are seamlessly and harmoniously connected – making exercises appear and feel more like dancing or swimming than like traditional yoga.
Benefits of GYROKINESIS® for Older Adults
Those who perform GYROKINESIS® exercises – younger and older alike – tend to be more relaxed in their daily lives. They’re able to move through their day with increased flexibility and ease. As such, these exercises are ideal for every age level and are especially beneficial for older adults.
Among the issues GYROKINESIS® addresses for older adults are the following:
One of the first things that decreases as we age is range of motion. This can make it difficult to perform exercises and movement. The loss of this range is often the result of compression in the body over time – gravity and the usual wear and tear. But it could also be attributed to conditions such as osteoporosis and spinal stenosis.
The GYROKINESIS® approach encourages creating length and decompression through the spine, and then throughout the body, in smooth, fluid, and safe motions. Working with an experienced trainer, older adults are able to find the appropriate range of motion while in the decompressed state.
This can allow for a greater range of motion without discomfort and far less risk of injury. The end result is increased flexibility with more freedom, ease, and comfort.
Changes in gait and mobility challenges also appear in later years. When older adults lose mobility through the spine, they often lose the spiraling action of the spine that’s part of a healthy walking gait.
One way that GYROKINESIS® addresses this is by working through a series of rhythmic mobilizations for the spine in the above mentioned seven directions while sitting stable on a stool. With mindfulness, the movements are gradually combined to create more complex spinal mobilizations.
There may also be a decrease in foot and ankle mobility with age. In these situations, GYROKINESIS® work may include specific foot and ankle exercises to bring awareness to that area and mobilize it.
Once the spine, hips, and shoulders are mobilized on the stool in a GYROKINESIS® class, there is a progression toward standing work. The purpose of much of the standing work in a GYROKINESIS® class is to mobilize the hips, knees, ankles, and feet.
Keeping these parts supple goes the distance in maintaining balance for older adults. And balance is crucial as we age. One simple fall can result in serious consequences.
So GYROKINESIS® classes are tailored for older populations by offering and teaching them specific techniques. Again, highly trained instructors are able to guide them on this journey.
Regularly performing GYROKINESIS® movements strengthens the muscles that support the spine, hips, and pelvis, while stabilizing the shoulder girdle. All movements are done without impact and assist in strengthening muscles in the core, arms, and legs as well.
Younger people aren’t the only ones prone to slouching and “tech neck” that are by-products of so much time spent on devices and laptops. Older adults are finding more challenges with posture than ever before. Furthermore, any bad postural habits developed over the years also work against them to undermine the proper mechanics of the body’s movement patterns.
Poor posture is not only uncomfortable, but it also makes one more prone to injury too. In addition, being hunched over all the time can zap self-confidence. Again, the strengthening movements taught in GYROKINESIS® classes help to improve posture.
There’s nothing that seals the mind-body connection like matching movement with breath in an intentional way. Similar to yoga and Pilates, GYROKINESIS® classes teach students simple breath patterns, with an emphasis on specific qualities of breathing. Bringing attention to the breath enables practitioners to use it as a helpful tool.
What’s more, improper breathing can often be the root cause of back, neck, and shoulder pain. Upon restoring proper breathing, older adults not only find relief from these, but find increased range of motion as more space becomes available between the ribs and in the diaphragm. And with the rib cage positioned in proper alignment over the pelvis, better movement function is available throughout the entire body.
It may sound complicated, but GYROKINESIS® is actually pretty simple. It feels great and it’s highly effective. How many exercise programs can you say that about?
Ready to Try GYROKINESIS® for Yourself?
We all age differently, but the movements of the GYROKINESIS® method are so gentle and safe, they allow for practitioners to maintain the joy of activity and movement – well into their later years.
So if you’re interested in experiencing for yourself the benefits of GYROKINESIS® for older adults, contact us today.