One of the satisfying things about yoga is that it is very inclusive and can be practised by people of all ages. It can also be started at any age.
In fact in a mixed ability, adult yoga class the age range can extend from people in their 20’s to people who are more than 6o years older than that.
It’s a cliche, but age is definitely a state of mind. I met someone recently who was 60 and who said to me, ‘Well I’m old now. I’ve got lots of aches and pains, but that’s to be expected at my age.’ To give her her due she did actually try yoga -once- but quickly decided it wasn’t for her, as she felt it was too late in life to take it up.
Her attitude was in complete contrast to that of other people I know who are practising yoga well into in their 80’s and of course to yoga enthusiasts such as BKS Iyengar – the guru who died in 2014 at the age of 95 – and who was still practising yoga with strength and flexibility. He claimed that the ‘ daily practice of yoga will keep old age at bay.’
There is evidence that yoga can help with all sorts of age related challenges: loss of bone density, stiffness, high blood pressure, hormonal fluctuations, insomnia, mild depression and it can help to improve breathing, balance, strength, flexibility and posture- counterracting the dreaded dowager’s hump where the upper back is hunched and the head juts forward. Yoga tends to be good for your back and there’s a saying, ‘You’re only as young as your spine.’
I am realistic enough to know that as far as physical fitness goes yoga is wonderful, but for a complete workout should be combined with other more aerobic exercises such as brisk walking or going to the gym.
However yoga is not just about physical postures. Another great advantage is the flexibility of mind it can give you. The more you practise yoga the more you get interested in the philosophy behind the practice and start to see things from a yogic point of view. As a result you tend to become more accepting of yourself and others, less judgemental and narrow minded -and generally more positive, contented with life and grateful . All that can be invaluable for keeping you young at heart.
NB: I am running a Saturday morning workshop on Yoga for Healthy Ageing in Ipswich on April 23rd 2016. Please contact me for more details contact me here
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net