Studies show that 1 out of 5 Americans taking yoga classes is older than 60. One of the advantages of yoga is it can be practiced by people of all ages and with a wide variety of health issues.
You don’t have to have the endurance of an athlete or rock hard abs to practice yoga. Yoga is more than the poses (asanas). Research shows just 10 minutes of daily meditation have provide significant mental and physical health benefits.
Meditation can reduce anxiety and stress. And a calm mind provides benefits for the body like slower respiration and heart rate.
Most forms of yoga is also considered to be safe for people of all ages. But, injuries can occur and are on the rise as hatha yoga increases in popularity.
Injuries usually occur when one exceeds their physical limits. This is part of the competitive nature of man. If a classmate can touch their toes, I can touch my toes. Your body will tell you wether or not that is true. Pulling a muscle by exceeding your limits is not practicing yoga.
Yoga And Chronic Pain
With the current opioid epidemic, any activity that reduces pain without resorting to medications, prescription or over-the-counter, should be considered.
Chronic pain comes in many forms. For many Americans, the origin of chronic pain is a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight. If you do not use your muscles they will atrophy (waste away). Age related muscle loss is not inevitable, and accelerates when living a sedentary lifestyle.
While hatha yoga can help reduce joint and low back pain, if you are overweight and sedentary, losing excess weight and becoming more active will also help.
Chronic pain and a sedentary lifestyle can be a vicious circle. Persistent pain can cause you to be less active. If you have ankle or knee pain, you may walk less or shuffle instead of taking long strides. Reducing pain can increase your mobility.
Hatha yoga can increase flexibility and build muscle. Both can help reduce chronic pain.
Controlled breathing, like the complete breath or alternate nostril breathing, can also help control pain.
Choosing The Right Type Of Yoga
If you have never practiced yoga, start with a gentle yoga class. There are many styles of gentle yoga like Iyengar, yoga for seniors, and restorative. These classes use props to help you with the pose. Being able to touch your toes in a forward bend is not as important as doing the pose. As your flexibility increases you can move on to more vigorous forms of yoga like ashtanga vinyasa…or not. If you enjoy gentle yoga stick with it.