Top Ten Reasons why you should practise yoga in your 50s, by Tina Ward founder of Yogaward ……..
“As I approached 50, I felt this overwhelming sense of regret. With no children and with all of my immediate family having passed away, I began asking myself questions like, “what has all this been for?” and “what will be my legacy?”
I had been active all my life – long distance runner, an occasional yoga practice and a few visits to the gym each week. But time had taken its toll. Bulging discs in my lower spine and torn meniscus in both my knees. After the long process of recovering from knee surgery, I hung up my running shoes, overcome with sadness.
My old friend yoga was the only fitness friend I felt I had left. I began a daily practice and as the weeks passed, I began noticing differences. The pain in my lower back disappeared. I was able to place weight on alternate legs without causing pain to both knees. Out came my running shoes and I became capable of running a 5k (albeit slowly).
Qualified Yoga Teacher
But these were not the changes that surprised me the most. My mental health improved significantly. I began to look forward to turning fifty, as yoga had made me realise that the one person I had never taken time to get to know was myself. If I hadn’t built my legacy, it was never too late to start. I became a qualified yoga teacher and the true journey of my life began toward my new passion – to help others improve their mental health through yoga.
If, like me, you are looking not only for a way to keep fit after fifty but also a way to find more meaning in your life, please read on to find 10 reasons yoga may well be the answer.
Yoga Builds Strength
It’s true that we’re not as strong as we used to be. Ageing means our bones lose density which makes them weaker. But practising yoga regularly helps strengthen our bodies. Yoga increases bone density and improves the functioning of our cardiovascular system.
Poses such as downward-facing dog and plank build core strength. Weak core muscles can leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries. I speak from experience as years of sitting huddled over a laptop lead to my own back pain. I rid myself of this back pain by practicing core strengthening poses in yoga.
Yoga Improves Flexibility
Yoga is great for improving flexibility. As we get older our joints and muscles stiffen and can become painful. Yoga gently works all the muscles through a range of motions which helps ease stiffness in the joints. Having been a runner for some time, I had extremely tight hamstrings and hip flexors and really struggled to touch my toes. After practicing yoga regularly, I am no longer stiff and can move freely.
Yoga Encourages Better Posture
Good posture is extremely important. But our busy lives, coupled with weakened vertebrate, means we tend to collapse through our spines. We become hunched over which can contribute to back and neck pain.
Yoga encourages us to be aware of our spinal cord and to sit up nice and tall. For example, Cat pose is great for creating length in the spine which in turn can lead to better posture.
Yoga May Help Manage Chronic Pain
From arthritis, osteoporosis, or back pain, none of us are strangers to those aches and niggles! But practising yoga, even for just twenty minutes a day, may help us manage chronic pain. Yoga gently works through the joints and strengthens the muscles. It’s also been found to reduce inflammation in the body. And remember, yoga poses can be adapted and adjusted to suit all levels.
Yoga May Regulate Menopausal Symptoms
Yoga has been used as a tool to help regulate symptoms of menopause. While all women experience menopause differently, consistent yoga practice is believed to be beneficial in managing our changing bodies. From relieving physical discomfort to reducing the number of hot flushes or helping manage weight gain, yoga can aid women through their menopausal journey.
Variations of the lotus pose are particularly useful for women suffering from hot flushes.
Yoga Reduces Stress
Stress can speed up the ageing process and leave us feeling haggard. But never fear – yoga is a natural stress-buster! It’s a wonderful way to help clear our minds from all that noise. The physical nature of yoga means we’re focusing on the poses which gives our active thinking minds a break.
Breath control and meditation are a large part of any yoga practice: many studies have found that meditation and yoga can help lower stress levels and release tension held in the body.
Yoga Teaches Us How to Use Our Breath to Our Advantage
We often don’t give much thought to our breathing. Yoga encourages us to be aware of our breath. It uses breathwork as a tool to calm and relax our bodies. It helps increase lung capacity which contributes to healthy working lungs, this is particularly beneficial to those who suffer from asthma.
Cow pose and cobra pose are effective chest-opening exercises that help us breathe evenly and fully into our lungs.
Yoga Promotes Better Quality Sleep
Sleep is a deeply restorative process but as we grow older we may experience insomnia. Practising yoga before bed has been linked to better quality sleep as it creates a sense of relaxation and calm. Yoga Nidra is a meditative form of yoga that trains the mind and body to enter a deeper restful state. It can bring on feelings of drowsiness which can induce sleep.
Child’s pose and corpse pose are both restorative postures that promote blissful sleep.
Yoga Is Good For Our Brains!
Yoga isn’t only good for our physical body – it improves our mental health too! On the mat, distractions are minimal, and we learn to fully focus on the present moment. The practice trains and disciplines our minds which can lead to improved cognitive function such as greater memory recall and increased attention span.
Yoga Improves Our Sense of Wellbeing
We may often berate our body for the things it is kept from doing easily. But yoga teaches us to accept our body. Yoga encourages us to feel at home within it. It helps us become intimately acquainted with our body, and all the changes it has experienced. And we learn to celebrate what our body can do – from perfecting our balance in tree pose, to our heels finally touching the floor in downward dog! Yoga fosters a sense of respect, love and appreciation for our body which have carried us through a lifetime!
So, what are you waiting for? There has never been a better time to take up yoga. From building strength to giving our brains a workout and all that lies in between – yoga is packed full of benefits for the over 50s.
I hope these ten reasons why you should practice yoga in your 50s has inspired you to get on your mat. I hope to see you in one of my free yoga classes soon!