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Debbie Pickett, 70, proudly says she is the oldest participant in a yoga class at White Oak Baptist Church. Instructors say yoga can help with many symptoms of aging, such as balance.

Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that includes breath control, meditation and specific body postures, according to statista.com. It is practiced for mental and physical health and relaxation. Local yoga instructors give five reasons to try it.

1. Cultivates calm. "It definitely reduces anxiety and stress," says Erika Hughes, a certified yoga instructor at Toes Yoga.

"It gives you mindfulness of your body. It helps you to remain calm and relieves tension throughout the body and gives an overall sense of well-being."

2. Strengthens and stretches. "You can gain strength and flexibility in a safe and gentle way to your body," says Della Wheeler, yoga instructor at Yoga Landing.

"Reduce stress, increase flexibility and increase strength. You can do all of that in a low- to no-impact way," says Jennifer Dixon, owner of Thrive Yoga and Wellness

3. Builds balance. "As you age, balance tends to decrease, especially in women. Yoga provides stability in your joints," says Dixon.

Practicing just 15 to 30 minutes of yoga each day could make a big difference for those looking to enhance performance by increasing flexibility and balance, according to healthline.com.

4. Abolishes back pain. "When you're strengthening your body, you're providing stability in your hips and lower joints, so [yoga] could help to reduce lower back pain," says Wheeler. "Studies have shown when your back muscles are weaker, that leads to problems with your spine and your discs. Yoga strengthens the back and core muscles and muscles along the hips," says Dixon.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study on July 20, 2017, stating that low back pain sufferers who completed a 12-week yoga program reported less pain and better quality of life than those who received medication and physical therapy, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

5. Refines focus. "You are focusing on being present in the practice of each of the poses as opposed to being distracted. The practice helps you to focus on what you're doing. The poses along with using your breath helps you to concentrate," says Anthony Crutcher, who teaches yoga at Nutrition World.

Twenty minutes of yoga a day could improve brain function, according to a small study published in 2013 in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

Contact Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6431.

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