Yoga for the over 50s: a passport to better health

Posted on: 19 May 2010 by Gareth Hargreaves

Practising yoga in later life can be a passport to far better health\; amongst a myriad of benefits are improved energy levels and prevention of arthritis and osteoporosis. Yoga teacher Lucia Cockcroft, founder of Yoga Abode and YA Retreats, explains more.

It is no coincidence that people who practice yoga regularly tend to be slimmer, stronger, more youthful and more energetic than those who do not. There is a powerful reason for this: yoga is the single most effective all-round preventative medicine available.

Unfortunately, misconceptions still abound about who yoga is 'suitable' for – with many people incorrectly believing that it should only be practised if you are young, flexible and female.

In truth, the reverse is true. Although not all classes are suitable for older people, a growing number are tailored to the over 50s, and with good reason.

One of the great yoga practitioners of our age, BKS Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar yoga, is now in his 80s. He still performs a vigorous yoga practice, including a headstand, every day.

Yoga tips

Establishing a yoga practice:

If possible, find a class tailored to the older age group.

Look for a gentle Iyengar, or complete beginners class.

Retreat company YA Retreats runs regular yoga & wellbeing breaks with classes specifically for the over 50s.

Read yoga news, and find a teacher, through Yoga Abode.

In her book, The New Yoga for People Over 50, American teacher Suza Francina, the author says: 'You are never too old to do yoga. On the contrary, you are too old NOT to do yoga! No segment can benefit more from yoga than people over 50.'

The physical benefits to be gained from a regular yoga practice include: improved balance and strengthen, lower blood pressure, stronger bones (and reduced risk of osteoporosis), more flexible joints, and improved cardiovascular health. 

On a psychological level, the rewards include better focus, more self-awareness, and a calmer mind.

Most of us realise that, regardless of our age, keeping strong and healthy means devoting time to physical exercise. Swimming and walking are fabulous ways to maintain cardiovascular health, but neither will help maintain bone density in the same way that yoga or weight training will.

In the words of 80-something BKS Iyengar: 'Yoga transforms a negative approach to life into a positive one. It helps us take care of ourselves at a time of need. Daily practice of yoga will keep old age at bay.'

Need Expert Advice?

McGahanLucia Cockcroft is a freelance yoga teacher and health writer, based in Chelmsford.
 Lucia teaches hatha yoga to individuals and small groups of varying levels of ability.

As well as teaching general hatha classes, Lucia also specialises in restorative yoga and yoga for the older person. She believes passionately that yoga's ability to transform (physically, emotionally, energetically), should be accessible to all.

Lucia runs online yoga magazine Yoga Abode and by looking after our retreats company, YA Retreats.

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