Why practice yoga after 50?
You’re past fifty and you may be wondering if yoga is for you? The answer is unequivocal: a big YES!
And it is not the extraordinary Tao Porchon Lynch, who would have said the opposite. In fact, she spent over 70 years on a yoga mat before bowing out at the age of 101! I could also quote Dinah Rodriguez, known for developing Hormonal Yoga at the age of 60! Today, in her nineties, she continues her daily yoga practice with enthusiasm. These are two examples of yoga enthusiasts among many others, as many women and men teach and practice Senior Yoga well into their 50s.
Why practice yoga at age 50 and over, what are the benefits?
Any physical activity is recommended throughout one’s life in order to maintain one’s body and keep it in good health. After the age of 50, the general metabolism begins to slow down and hormonal fluctuations (in both men and women) are felt. Inconveniences appear such as:
- sleep disorders
- hot flashes
- weight gain, especially in the abdomen
- painful joints
- muscle loss
Senior yoga exercise is a valuable ally at this time of life, whether it be physically, emotionally or mentally, and will bring you many benefits.
What are the physical effects of yoga?
- By practicing an activity such as senior yoga at home or by taking yoga classes in a studio, you will gradually regain flexibility and suppleness throughout your body, as well as better muscle tone.
- If you participate in Hatha Yoga classes for example, the exercise of holding the postures for a longer or shorter period of time will allow your body to gently strengthen the different muscle chains in a good position.
- With regular senior yoga exercise, the constantly stressed spine regains mobility and flexibility, as well as all the muscles surrounding it. The back pain fades and the body straightens up, the back is straight.
- Regular practice of senior yoga exercises will also improve joint flexibility, reduce weight gain, increase bone density … but most importantly will ease stress and anxiety.
- Indeed, senior yoga is an activity that also allows the practice of breathing and relaxation exercises, and we know that stress is a factor at the origin of many disorders and diseases in women and men including seniors.
Senior yoga to reduce stress after 50
Many women as they age and enter premenopause experience higher stress levels than before. Indeed, it has been found that the level of cortisol (stress hormone) tends to increase with age for biochemical reasons, but also for reasons due to our modern lifestyles.
Increased stress has an impact on :
- the mood
- weight gain
- cardiovascular health
- diffuse pain
Practicing yoga after the age of 50 undoubtedly contributes to physical and psychological well-being thanks to the mastery of one’s body, the coordination of one’s movements, the work of breathing which allows one to concentrate and refocus on oneself. Yoga also allows you to work on your posture, to have a straight back and less pain in the back, legs, knees etc… Finally, senior yoga balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in deep relaxation. By also increasing the production of serotonin (happiness hormone), yoga offers us the keys to a better quality of life, a serene and harmonious life.
Isabel Kehr, Senior Yoga Teacher Isabel Kehr, specialized in Hormonal Yoga, offers you a gentle yoga class in videos for legs and back:
Yoga an ideal activity for seniors
Originating in India, yoga has its roots in antiquity more than 4000 years ago. The root of the word “yoga” means to connect or to unite, so much so that this discipline has at heart to reconnect the body and the spirit. Allowing to better cross the difficult periods, yoga has vocation to help the individuals to find their unity and to develop a feeling of well-being. A true art of living, yoga is based on a philosophy of life and meditation. Different currents of yoga coexist, some being more dynamic and physical, others more static or softer like
which are particularly adapted to seniors.
Yoga requires little equipment and is accessible to all. However, a soft and elastic outfit is essential to offer you comfort and the best possible range of motion. We will also think of equipping ourselves with a non-slip yoga mat adapted, preferably non-slip to prevent falls and easy to carry (light and easy to roll) to take it everywhere without problem. During the yoga sessions, the focus is on the breath and the body, during different exercises and postures. A true rejuvenation cure, yoga allows to act gently on the physical as well as on the moral with real health benefits for seniors.
Examples of senior yoga poses:
- The installation against the wall. We lie down by coming up the legs against the wall what works the flexibility. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. The shoulders should be well off your ears. A variation: you can keep your knees bent and put your feet on the wall.
- The downward posture of the dog. We stand upright and straight, then we will come to bend while keeping the legs in a straight position.
- Forward curvature. While sitting, we will come to bend towards the front until ideally, to have the hands which touch the ground close to the foot. While remaining seated. The chest should touch the thighs.
- The installation of the triangle. In front of a chair, we will put the right hand on the chair, move the right foot forward and raise the left hand towards the sky, in order to stretch for 3 to 5 breaths.
- The warrior’s stance 2. Still sitting on a chair with your back straight, point your right leg to the right and spread both arms while looking to your right. The left leg remains in neutral position. This is a good stretching and softening exercise that you will hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
Aging better with senior yoga
There are no photos, physical exercise is essential for healthy aging, and senior yoga is an excellent example. The practice of senior yoga allows you to better manage your stress by learning to breathe well but also helps to soften the body and tone the figure, and keep the back straight.
Here are several examples of the benefits that senior yoga exercise provides:
- Thanks to its advanced stretching, the senior yoga classes allow to work on the stiffness of the joints, this yoga helps to stand up straight and to gain mobility but also to relieve certain chronic pains (legs, knees, back, feet, shoulders, arms, etc…) that are found in particular in certain pathologies in men and women related to age such as arthritis or osteoporosis by working the muscles of the legs and by strengthening your knees for example.
- Allowing to evacuate tensions, the senior yoga group classes help to reduce mood disorders and improve sleep quality,
- The gentle practice of senior yoga helps to reduce risk factors for high blood pressure such as stress or anxiety,
- Involving many breathing exercises, senior yoga, a Zen discipline, optimizes the respiratory function which tends to deteriorate with age.
- Thanks to the muscular reinforcement on the ground and the work of the postures practiced during a senior yoga class, the elderly regain their sense of balance and stability on the ground, which are essential to prevent the risk of falling.
- On the other hand, we also note that the practice of the activity that is the senior yoga in class allows to open up the isolated elderly people, still too numerous, and helps to recreate social link.
- Senior yoga group classes are an essential activity to combat mood disorders, the social stimulation also has beneficial effects on cognition and memory by projecting pleasant images.
- In France, many yoga studios offer group yoga classes adapted to seniors, this is a chance and you should not hesitate to inquire with a yoga studio near you.
- Yoga literature can deepen your understanding of yoga and books can even help you improve many areas of your life. Books on yoga nutrition, meditation books and books on the history of yoga are investments to consider.
Experience, culture, wisdom… if being a senior citizen has many assets, it is sometimes necessary to deal with an aging body: back pain, stiff joints, difficulty in moving… Exercising an adapted physical activity is thus highly recommended for people who are getting older. Combining stretching, balance work and breathing, the practice of yoga (in class and in the studio in particular) allows you to regain flexibility, strengthen your muscles and prevent falls, but also to regain moral well-being. Real advantages for seniors. Thus, the senior yoga classes help to reconnect with the sport and physical exercise while practicing safely, supervised by a trained teacher. You can also take video lessons at home to complement a studio class.
Do not hesitate to practice the senior yoga exercises with a senior yoga training teacher in a yoga studio for example. You will be able to share a convivial moment in group with people wishing to share their passion for yoga!