Everyday Yoga Practices for Bone Health, Strength and Balance
by Ellen Saltonstall
Emerald Lake Books
Pub date: 02-Jan-2024
Do you want to remain strong and active throughout your life?
Embrace the journey of remaining active while aging. This comprehensive guide by seasoned yoga therapist Ellen Saltonstall offers a fresh perspective on living with courage, vitality and grace.
Drawing from the wisdom of yoga, this book provides professional guidance, gentle adaptations, and compassionate support to improve your bone health, strength and balance while enhancing your overall well-being so you can enjoy the fullness of life at any age.
Each chapter is filled with simple and easy-to-follow instructions that can be done from the comfort of your own home. The expert advice makes this book an invaluable resource for those seeking to reclaim their vigor.
Whether you’re new to yoga or an experienced practitioner, Empowered Aging will inspire you to take control of your health and embrace your golden years with confidence.
There was definitely something cosmic about me finding Ellen Saltonstall’s newest book, Empowered Aging listed in NetGalley. Half of the yoga I teach is to mature women (it’s not meant to be exclusive; that’s who shows up) in a Chair Yoga class. I’ve already read a few books over the years for as long as I’ve been teaching, but as soon as I hit menopause, I was searching for more books. My friend Michele, who I often substitute for in her Chair Yoga class, directed me to the blog Yoga for Healthy Aging. Wouldn’t you know it, Saltonstall has written for them too.
The best thing about Empowered Aging is how practical it is. It’s a quick read to go through it once and see what this “yoga stuff” is about. I will say, there is no yoga philosophy or spiritual guidance in this book other than some tips about looking inward to see how you feel. If you’re the type of person that is not interested in the non-physical aspects, but you want a safe way to practice, this book is a great place to start. Plus, despite there being attention to maturity and ailments like osteopenia and osteoporosis, anyone who has never tried yoga, should be able to easily follow along with the postures (asanas). Saltonstall gives precise step-by-step instructions for each variation of every single asana she included. That’s helpful for times when you want to pick up the book, move your body and need to remember how to get in and out of these shapes.
Saltonstall also emphasized the importance of warming up and cooling down. In my personal experiences, I’ve seen too many fitness or yoga instructors skip one or both of those segments. I blame the industry and management. Yoga classes used to be 90 minutes to 2 hours and now people want everything in 30 minutes. Saltonstall explains that it is possible to give yourself a 20-minute break to move in a safe and healthy way, but she doesn’t present her findings that 20-30 minutes is a complete practice. It’s offered as something to fit in when you notice your body slouching, feeling fatigued, or experiencing aches and pains.
In Empowered Aging, this author-yogi has a way with words to give readers confidence. She states it clearly that she wants people to go through her sample sequences until they’re comfortable and then find the confidence to make up their own. Pick a couple from the warm-up section, then standing or sitting, and then restore to bring the body to homeostasis. As a reader and student, one would likely never feel that Saltonstall is condescending like so many fitness trainers who think the bullying drill sergeant style is what motivates people.
Saltonstall’s advice on how to move your spine safely to avoid injuries is clearly explained including illustrations of the types of fracture that can be avoided. If you become anxious reading that you should not bend forward and round your spine, keep reading. Saltonstall wants readers to be aware of their anatomy. Bending from the hip crease while keeping the spine long is safer and she explains why. She’s not afraid to repeat that in every set of instructions where a posture would integrate a forward folding movement. She also explains the difference in a forceful bending of the spine like in sit-ups compared to a gentle “cat” movement (the cat posture rounds the spine intentionally and gently like a cat stretching).
Each posture presented comes with the written instructions, benefits, things to keep in mind, helpful tips, photographs of Saltonstall in each variation, and then what she calls “reflections.” Reflections are questions to ask yourself that also serve as reminders like, “Can you breath normally while doing this?” as an example.
Before you even get to the chapters on how to do each asana presented, there is a short segment on the history of yoga; learning to become aware of your own body; incorporating balance practice and why it’s important; explanations on why she emphasizes alignment; precautions; what kind of props are beneficial; and a lexicon of terminology which is great for people who haven’t regularly been in yoga classes or took a solely Western approach. She does include both the English and Sanskrit names of the postures because every instructor one encounters will have their own preference about which they use in a class.
To close, it is worth reading through the Acknowledgments because it’s a wonderful list of people to look up online and many books that got Saltonstall to creating this manual. Her other books include: Yoga for Arthritis and Yoga for Osteoporosis co-authored with Dr. Loren Fishman; and Anatomy and Yoga.
Saltonstall’s Empowered Aging: Everyday Yoga Practices for Bone Health, Strength and Balance is a book I will be highly recommending to my teacher peers and students. It’s organized; filled with accurate science as we know it in 2024; easy to follow; includes photographs and illustrations; and, presents an encouraging reading experience.
Rating: 5 stars