You are never too old for yoga. Just ask this 95-year-old yoga instructor in Toronto or
the 92-year-old instructor at the yoga studio I attend twice a week when I am in town. They are perfect examples of the benefits of this form of exercise that helps us feel better in so many ways.
Research shows there are plenty of yoga students over 60 and there are many people teaching yoga who are over 80. Yoga and seniors are a natural fit.
Those who practice yoga in its purest form see it as more than just a simple form of exercise. As you take care of your body, your mind and spirit are also rejuvenated as stress and chaos are released through the movement and breathing practiced in yoga sessions.
It’s a win/win undertaking!
Most people who get involved develop more confidence as they try new, more challenging poses. Studies have indicated that yoga is extremely helpful in combating stress, fatigue and pain. Some poses increase core strength and balance.
As well as improving mobility, fears of falling diminished. Yoga is definitely a form of exercise that can help us feel younger, happier and healthier.
When starting out, make sure you research studios where a beginning class is taught by a certified yoga instructor. Good instructors watch carefully to ensure you are moving into the correct body positioning. They will encourage you to learn your body’s limits and not overdo things. Particularly in the beginning, you may not be able to perform all poses or hold them for very long but good teachers understand that and only encourage you to do your best. You will find that most classes have people working at all different levels of ability. Bottom line: you are there to feel better, not worse!
A few tips for the novice:
- Don’t overdo it! Be comfortable with yourself and go at your own pace.
- Don’t be shy about asking to modify a pose or use props.
- Do your homework. Find a certified instructor with whom you feel a connection.
- Make sure you choose the right style of yoga. E.g. Hot yoga is not for us!
- Hydrate before and after your class and keep water nearby in case you feel dizzy.
- Don’t eat beforehand. If you must, a light snack at least an hour before is best.
Good yoga instructors will be aware of possible limitations and all medical conditions should be duly noted on a registration form. If you are not offered such a form, this is not the place for you … or anyone else! Many studios offer specialized Yoga for Seniors or Gentle Yoga programs and these would be good places to start. Having said that, you may be pleasantly surprised as you find yourself moving into regular, advanced classes as time goes on.
I can assure you from my own experience that yoga has some amazing transformative powers. The postures, relaxation techniques and voluntary regulated breathing can offer much-improved sleep patterns. Improved lung capacity and decreased blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol have been demonstrated in controlled-group studies. Anxiety levels and chronic pain have been shown to diminish. The simple positive effects of belonging to a sociable group add to the benefit of taking up yoga.
Even though you may never be able to bend yourself into a pretzel, everyone is capable of learning simple poses that will improve your overall quality of life.
Check out these Yoga for Seniors videos if you wish more information before joining a yoga group. My advice though: do not simply start doing yoga from a video. The assistance of a proper instructor is essential.
Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured. ~B.K.S. Iyengar
The yoga mat is a good place to turn when talk therapy and antidepressants aren’t enough. ~Amy Weintraub
The beauty is that people often come here for the stretch, and leave with a lot more. ~Liza Ciano, co-owner & co-director of Yoga Vermont, yogavermont.com
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