You may be forgiven for thinking that Yoga is the preserve of lithe young things wrapped in Lycra and not typical of the type of physical exercise designed for seniors.
If your thoughts are wandering in that direction then take a leaf out of the Duchess of Cornwall’s book.
Camilla, now in her 70’s, says she is all for a spot of Yoga and comments that it is “very important as you get older to exercise and stretch”. I couldn’t agree more……..much better than resting and rusting and slowly sliding down that slippery slope to the aged care home.
As you progress into your late 50’s and enter what many people unfortunately call the downhill run into your 60’s, you will start to notice that your balance and flexibility are not what they used to be, that is, unless you already lead an active ageing lifestyle.
I love mixing up my exercise program with a bit of Yoga but if you’ve never done any Yoga before, the thought of starting out at this stage of your life may seem to be a daunting prospect, but I urge you, don’t be afraid to fail; just be afraid not to try because it will help you with both your physical and mental health. It also has a strong spiritual background……great for stress relief.
So what I am saying is, don’t let any of these negative thoughts hold you back from improving your health, fitness and longevity.
Note to Self: You are not too old and it is not too late!
So think of it like this…..Active Ageing is all about successful ageing and that’s why it is the answer to Anti-Aging.
Yoga is one of the best low impact exercises you can possibly do to ignite your body.
And furthermore, numerous recent research programs strongly suggest that Yoga has the potential to slow the harmful physical effects of stress and inflammation which is so prevalent in our age group.
With stress accounting for somewhere in the vicinity of 60% to 80% of visits to family doctors it is no wonder that Yoga is fast gaining in popularity.
Harvard Medical School also confirms that here: Yoga could slow the harmful effects of stress and inflammation. Have a read of this report as it also includes a 15 step process for the calming Yoga alternate nostril breath…….something well worth learning for lowering your stress levels.
I, and many of my surfing mates, have been doing Yoga for years as it gives us the flexibility and the ability to tap into the natural flow of our bodies helping prevent injuries plus improving our strength and balance. We also use it as a warm-up routine before we go out for a good session.
Yoga is far from being a “one size fits all” type of exercise activity because you can adapt and modify it to fit your own personal needs quite easily. It doesn’t matter how good or bad you think or feel you are at Yoga, everyone can reap the benefits.
I believe everyone, regardless of age, should be doing some Yoga, especially as you start to age as it can play an increasingly important role in helping you improve your flexibility and joint strength as well as improve your balance and stability through a whole range of low impact movements.
Strengthening your bones, muscles and increasing your flexibility skills improves posture and mobility in aging which is one of the key considerations for all baby boomers.
Yoga is one of the preferred forms of exercise for the anti-ageing movement.
Yoga is also an excellent mind-body exercise that greatly lowers stress, which is a culprit in numerous chronic lifestyle conditions from which many seniors suffer, such as heart disease, obesity and even dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Even more appealing, Yoga is free. You don’t require any fancy and expensive gym equipment, and it can be done in the comfort of your own home. All you need is a towel and a Yoga mat.
One tip here though. If you have never done any Yoga before and you would like to give it a try then I strongly suggest you go to at least a few Yoga classes with a qualified Yoga instructor so you can learn how to do the different poses correctly. This is most important.
Here are 4 of the best Yoga poses for healthier aging:
1. The Warrior Pose
The warrior pose is a great standing pose that helps increase strength of the leg muscles, as well as improving bone density (as standing is known for doing). In addition, this pose also boosts flexibility in the hip region and inner thighs.
• Stand with feet shoulder distance apart, with arms down to the sides.
• Turn to one side, and step your foot out about 3 to 4 feet, on the same side. Rotate your foot about 90 degrees.
• Raise your arms while inhaling, to shoulder height.
• Exhale, and simultaneously bend the outstretched leg to a position as close to parallel to the floor as possible.
• Keep your other leg straight, and hold pose for 30 seconds.
• Repeat with the other leg.
2. The Bridge Pose
The bridge pose is extremely popular, owing to its benefits of strengthening the lower back muscles and hips. The bridge pose may be particularly useful for persons with lower back pain, or those who spent much of their lives at a desk job.
• Lie on a stable surface (the floor preferably) with your back and feet flat on the floor and bend your knees. Keep arms to your sides.
• Press hands into the floor as you breathe in.
• Exhale and contract abdominal muscles as you simultaneously push your hips and butt off of the floor.
• At the top position your back and upper legs should form a 45 degree angle, resembling a “bridge.”
• Hold for 30 seconds and then slowly return to the start position.
3. Legs up the Wall
This pose is beneficial for stretching the hamstring muscles, similar to bending over but without the stress ion the lower back muscles. This pose is also useful for persons with poor circulation, as it drains blood flow from the legs and recirculates it through the heart.
• Sit on the floor with legs close to a wall.
• Shift your body so that your legs are up the wall, bracing the back of your feet against the wall.
• If you are unable to stretch your feet in that position, move your hips away from the wall a bit, and place the bottom of your feet on the wall.
• Stretch your hamstrings for a period of 30 seconds, then slowly take your feet off the wall.
4. The Tree Pose
If there was one pose representing yoga in all its glory, it would be the tree pose. At the core of the tree pose’s benefits is improving balance, very important in healthy aging to help prevent falls and tumbles, since falls are the one cause of injury in the aging population.
• Stand with feet together, and hands with palms together, overhead.
• If this is your first time, raise one leg slightly up, so that toes are gently touching the ground but with heel touching the ankle of the next leg.
• Stay balances in this position for approximately 30 seconds.
• Repeat with other leg.
As your balance improves, raise your toes and heel higher so that your non-working leg is fully bent at the knee.
This is just a taste of some of the benefits of Yoga for baby boomers so I hope this is enough to give you the motivation to dip your toe in the water and give Yoga a go……it is well worth the effort as the long term health benefits are amazing.
I firmly believe that Active Ageing pretty much determines the quality of your future life……and as I mentioned earlier, it’s also the answer to Anti-Aging.
“Exercise is not optional when it comes to good health and anti-aging, it is essential.” – John Falkinder
Cheers – John – your Active Ageing mentor and Coach.
P.S. Encourage a friend to better health…….like and share. Thanks.
P.P.S. Here are 6 more Benefits of Yoga for Seniors you might also like to read about before you go.