Instagram may show otherwise, but yoga is not just for skinny white women in their 20s, yoga is for everyone, of any age, with any type of body. Yoga is a millenia old practice for stretching and strengthening the body, while calming the mind. There are so many mental, emotional, and physical reasons to practice yoga over 50, even if you’ve never practiced before:
- Reducing anxiety and stress
- Building strength and maintaining muscle mass
- Supporting bone density and stability
- Improving balance
- Improving sleep quality
- Increasing self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-kindness
- Improving mental focus
- Decreasing back pain, hip pain, and other pains due to sitting at a desk all day
- Improving mood
- Feeling grounded, centered, and calm
- Feeling physically relaxed
- Improving energy
- And more!
A huge reason that yoga is so beneficial to all who practice, is its ability to bring us into the present moment. In the present, there is no anxiety or regret. The present moment is the only moment that we can control. Noticing your thoughts and feeling what is happening in your body are the first steps toward gaining control. Learning to control your thoughts and movements, thinking and moving intentionally, is what yoga is all about.
When you can consciously feel your emotions rise, you can then have control over them. You can create space in your body and mind and decide how to respond, rather than simply reacting.
Muscle and bone health
As we age, we lose both muscle and bone mass. Yoga has been shown to improve strength and mobility in people with sarcopenia (muscle loss), as well as bone density in people with osteopenia (bone loss). Yoga builds functional strength through a series of poses using only body weight. Each movement is intentional, bringing you into the present moment in your body. Mindful movements not only feel good, but reduce the chance of injury. When we are over 50 we heal much slower than we did in our 20s, so the mindful, intentional movements of a yoga practice give you the strength your body needs, with a much lower risk.
Mobility is another thing that goes as we age, unless we stretch regularly. Yoga, however, is so much more than just stretching. The yoga poses in Vinyasa Yoga (which I teach) are done in coordination with intentional breathing. When you inhale deeply, and lengthen out your exhale, it gives the body more time to relax. When you can relax into a stretch, rather than forcing it, the body is much more accomodating. Connecting your breath with your movement allows the body to relax while stretching. When you relax, you can stretch safely; when you force a stretch, you can often end up injured.
Benefits to the mind
The mental and emotional benefits are plentiful. Practicing yoga can put you in a better mood, lower stress and anxiety, and help you get better sleep. I have many students who come to their mat stressed, irritable, and anxious and leave feeling grounded and in a much better mood. It only takes a few minutes of moving and breathing to make a difference. A student of mine once took one of my 15 minute classes and, much to her surprise, feel much better afterward. Breathing intentionally while moving encourages the mind to let go of worries and judgment and just be with what is. Yoga cultivates self-acceptance; when you don’t judge or criticize yourself, it is quite a relief.
None of these things occur with just one class, but happen over time. One class on the mat can leave you feeling better, but the more significant effects happen through having a regular practice. This helps you feel good in your body and mind every day, and helps you better manage things when they go off the rails. I’ve been practicing for almost 30 years; yoga has changed my life for the better. It doesn’t keep bad things from happening, stress is part of life. But it does help me cope and feel better about difficult people and events.
I teach online live and on demand for all levels of student. I offer Beginner Classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, or On Demand whenever you like! Click the link to see my full schedule of classes: https://purpleroomyoga.com/classes
I am launching my new course, Back to Yoga Basics, in March! Click here for more information or to sign up!
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