Age means nothing in yoga. Our bodies, if kept healthy and happy will go on and on, it’s something that even scientists are coming to agree with. The practice of yoga doesn’t have to take over your life, make you eat vegetarian or grow your hair long.
Whilst there are some things that improve with age – decision making, empathy and happiness, there are a lot of things that do change as we get older that are not for the better; it doesn’t have to be that way. And it’s never too late to start… just so long as you make a commitment to practice regularly, little and often is the key.
Problem – painful joints (especially hands and knees) can make us feel really stiff and creaky – making us grumpy as it hurts to do things we used to get pleasure from.
How Yoga Helps – gentle regular movements help to bring synovial fluids to the joints making them feel more flexible and reduce swelling which relieves tension and pain.
Problem – as we age our bone density decreases which means our bones are more likely to crack if we fall.
How Yoga Helps – weight bearing exercises help to increase bone density. Although the gains are relatively small, these gains along with the improved muscle tone and balance can help to negate the effects of osteoporosis.
Problem – as we age we need less sleep and can be woken with the need to go to the loo.
How Yoga Helps – Gentle stretching and rhythmic breathing techniques can help to induce sleep. Relaxation exercises learnt in a class environment can prove very useful and help us get a full night of restful, healing sleep.
4 Blood Pressure
Problem – High blood pressure is a common ailment affecting us as we age due to reduced elasticity of blood vessels and the decreasing ability to process dietary salt.
How Yoga Helps – The regular practice of deep breathing and gentle physical exercises helps the tissues of the body to remain healthy and elastic. Attending classes helps people to look after themselves, be with like minded people, feel supported in adopting more positive approach to diet and lifestyle.
5 Hormonal Changes
Problem – menopause can cause debilitating disruption to life with wild mood swings and temperature fluctuations.
How Yoga Helps – relaxation techniques and gentle flowing posture work practiced daily can help to decrease symptoms.
6 Myofascial Tightening
Problem – a decrease in collagen produced by the body causes a loss of flexibility in our muscles and connective tissue, this leads to stiffness, tension and imbalance in the body.
How Yoga Helps – gentle, regular stretching keeps the body’s soft tissue fluid and flexible.
7 Ligament Tears
Problem – tears are common in stressed and overused ligaments of the knee joint, shoulders, hips and ankles.
How Yoga Helps – by strengthening the muscles around these joints the stress is reduced on the ligaments and the joint is able to retain it’s healthy use. There is a saying in yoga ‘use it or lose it’ and the best way to keep joints moving is to keep joints moving.
8 Core Strength and Back Pain
Problem – pain is caused by nerves being squashed by unsupported vertebrae. Gravitational forces and poor posture will continually cause vertebrae to want to move downwards. The only way to keep the spine in correct alignment is to support it with strong muscles. There are many spinal issues that can arise as we age – narrowing of the spinal canal, herniated, bulging or slipped discs – all cause back pain which is commonly managed with pain relief tablets.
How Yoga Helps – gentle work to strengthen the back, core muscles (and really the whole of the body from the feet to the eyebrows) will help the back to be supported by muscle and bring about correct alignment to the spinal column.
There is only one rule that you need to know in a yoga class “the posture should be steady and comfortable” – so if you are steady and comfortable you are doing it right. Some people may wish to stand on their heads, some may want to tie themselves up like a pretzel and that’s OK so long as it’s steady and comfortable for them. If standing on your 2 feet with the back in good alignment is what you do at your first yoga class – so long as it’s steady and comfortable then you are doing yoga that is right for you. Your practice is just that – your practice. Don’t delay – you can begin today – see my free online yoga exercises here