One of my life goals, in addition to staying happy, slim, and healthy, is to grow old gracefully and I'm convinced yoga will help.
Is yoga a fountain of youth?
I believe so each time I take a yoga class where at least one or two of the students are 70+ year-old women glowing with energy and vitality.
And I'm sure of it each time I have a session with one of my vibrant 60+ year-old students.
And in case there was any doubt, I recently read about an 88-year-old yoga teacher from California who still teaches yoga classes at various senior centers several times a week!
One of my favorite yoga phrases is, “You are as young as your spine is flexible.” If this is true, how old are you? (After more than a decade of yoga, I feel much younger than when I first stepped on my yoga mat with herniated discs and sciatica!) Many basic yoga exercises help with spinal flexibility including gentle forward bends, back bends, and twists.
Contrary to what popular culture would have you believe, yoga isn’t just for the young, fit, and flexible. It's great for people of all ages, particularly those of us moving toward middle age and beyond.
According to a study by Yoga Journal magazine almost 20 percent of Americans practicing yoga are 55 years old or over. So don't let age be an excuse for not experiencing the benefits of yoga. It's never too late to get started.
The nice thing about yoga is that it is adaptable to all ages and levels. It can be modified to meet individual needs. You can even do yoga sitting in a chair
And it doesn’t take long for older adults to begin experiencing and talking about the positive effects of yoga on their lives. Within just a few sessions students often report increased energy, mobility, and flexibility, improved balance, strength, and posture, diminished pain and an overall feeling of well-being. This sure sounds like the effects of a fountain of youth, doesn’t it?
Yoga can bring more benefits to the well-being of seniors and older adults including:
- Decreasing the need for some medications.
- Making day to day activities like reaching a high shelf or getting in and out of the bathtub easier.
- Learning how to take better care of ones needs.
- Creating a sense of community with fellow yoga students.
- Improving the ability to cope with stress and loss that occurs more often as we age
If you are beyond a certain age and ready to give yoga a try, seek out classes with names like, “Yoga for Seniors,” “Yoga after 50,” and “Gentle Yoga.” Or look for a teacher willing to come to you, which is what I do.
If you can’t find a class or instructor specializing in yoga for older adults there are several yoga books and DVDs that can help. Some of my favorites include:
- Lilias! Yoga Gets Better with Age by Lilias Folan (Book)
- Yoga for the Rest of Us by Peggy Cappy (DVD)
- Sitting Fit Anytime by Susan Winter Ward (DVD)
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