If you have ever thought you’re too old for yoga, think again! I have been teaching yoga for 25 years and I have witnessed the health and mental benefits yoga can help achieve as one grows older.
I myself fall into the category of a senior, even though I don’t feel like one at all. Yoga has helped me enjoy great physical health, mental clarity and the most wonderful quality of life, particularly over the last 20 years.
As the body matures it’s important to maintain maximum flexibility, which has many benefits. It helps prevent injuries, improves posture which helps with back pain and osteoporosis, and also manages stress keeping the nervous system balanced.
The students that attend my classes range in age from 12 to 82 and I am seeing that those in their 60s who practice yoga regularly are far stronger and more flexible than those who are much younger. This, of course, is very good for the retirees’ self-esteem.
The mental benefits of yoga practice for seniors are equally as important. In a yoga class the student is being constantly reminded to keep the mind on the body, creating greater mental focus, concentration and clarity. Seniors also tell me that since taking up yoga, they have much more physical, mental and creative energy for their grandchildren.
But if being able to do a handstand or twist yourself into a knot is what you envision yoga to be like, you’re not alone – there are many misconceptions.
As a responsible teacher I always encourage my students to go only as far as is comfortable. Keeping a healthy lifestyle is key to making those golden years the best.
Seniors need to be reminded that social activity is vital in their later years because recent studies have found the opposite, that social isolation puts us at great risk of premature dementia and depression. In my yoga classes I try to keep my students up to date with fresh information on health issues and I find the retirees seem to be particularly appreciative of this.
I also see wonderful friendships being created among the seniors and we all know how nourishing it is to be around like-minded people.