Alongside my general classes, I have been teaching yoga to people from their 50’s to their 90’s for 8 years now, both in group classes and on a one-to-one basis. I can honestly say that this age group benefit the most from their yoga practice. It also happens to be the area of my teaching that I find particularly rewarding as I find myself being continually amazed and inspired by my students.
I want to share the benefits of yoga with the ageing population as I see first hand how it dramatically improves their quality of life, whether they are complete beginners, returning after a long time away from a regular practice or have been practicing for longer than my years on this planet.
Firstly, I wish to dissolve the common belief that one has to be of a certain fitness level / have flexible joints / be free of ailments in order to join a yoga class. It is my role as a teacher, to ensure that all people who step into my class are able work with the body they arrive with.
Naturally, a high-energy, physically demanding class is not best suited to those in their mid-life and beyond if they are new to yoga. In my Over 50’s and Over 60’s classes, I teach at a level that is appropriate for those attending and do my best to ensure that everyone leaves feeling better then when they arrived.
I often like to think of our bodies as engines. As an example, think of a car. What we put in the engine affects how it runs – we know that a healthy diet, exercise and certain things in moderation are fundamental in ensuring that our body stays in good working order. As we age, some parts may become creaky and require a little more attention in order to maintain optimum efficiency. Even though the exterior may start to show signs of wear, if we do our utmost to keep internal parts well serviced and oiled, we can expect to have the best possible functionality and far less likelihood of breakdown as opposed to leaving the engine and mechanical parts to fend for themselves. Just imagine, if we left our ageing car in the garage for years without giving it a good run and regular servicing, in time we would open the garage door to find a rusty old heap fit for the breakers yard!
If you don’t use it you lose it! It’s tempting to give into decreased energy levels, creaky joints or other signs of wear and tear by becoming sedentary, but this will simply speed up the ageing process and will not be helpful for our health, mobility and overall wellbeing in the long term. But why is yoga, in particular, so good for us as we get older? Read on.
What are the benefits of yoga for seniors?
– improved posture, strength and muscle tone
– helps to maintain bone density
– maintains and increases joint mobility
– encourages optimal structural alignment which helps to minimise wear and tear on our joints
– helps with balance and co-ordination
– teaches us to breathe properly, bringing numerous health benefits
– positively supports all of the bodily systems including digestive, respiratory, circulatory and immune systems
– teaches greater awareness of our body’s movement and inner workings so that we may be aware of potential dysfunction at a much earlier stage
– balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain, improving motor and cognitive function
– decreases stress levels and anxiety
– helps us to enjoy life more with a greater sense of overall wellbeing
Do I need to be flexible or fit to start yoga?
It’s a myth that one needs flexible or of a certain body shape to participate! Increased flexibility is a benefit of regular practice. All exercises and postures can be modified for everyone and individual attention is offered. In yoga we use props – walls and chairs where necessary – to ensure that we get the best out of our efforts whilst feeling safe and comfortable.
Can I participate if have a health condition, joint problem or limited mobility?
Yoga is hugely beneficial for many conditions from high blood pressure to arthritis but it’s always wise to get the all clear from your GP or healthcare practitioner beforehand and please let your teacher know of any health concerns when you start.
What can I expect from Ginny’s Over 50’s or Over 60’s yoga class?
– Breath awareness and breathing exercises
– Gentle warm ups, taking joints through their range of motion through movement exercises. This helps to lubricate joints and is particularly helpful for arthritis.
– Comfortable stretching to maintain muscle and connective tissue elasticity.
– Appropriate exercises to strengthen core muscles to aid postural alignment and support for the spine
– Standing postures to help build strength and balance in the body whilst building confidence
– Work on standing balance (you can always use the wall or a chair if you feel unsteady!)
– Seated and supine postures
– Appropriate inverted postures, such as lying on the floor with our legs up the wall. Wonderful for circulation
– Plenty of relaxation
As my 91 year old lady – who walks with the aid of a frame – says ‘If I can do it, anyone can do it. I always feel like I have achieved something when I leave the class’.
Please share this article with anyone you know who may benefit from yoga – mums, dads, Grans, the next door neighbour (you get the idea!) as I’d love to be given the opportunity to help more ageing people reap the rewards of this wonderful practice that is yoga.
Join a class in Brighton or Worthing
Over 50’s – Brighton Natural Health Centre
Over 60’s – Guildcare Centre, Worthing