By Cassie Brewer (see below for more information)
Magazines, social media, and tv commercials are full of images of young women doing yoga in cute workout gear while trying to selling you a litany of products. Sometimes men are included in the bombardment of yoga themed advertisements. Occasionally they actually mention the health benefits yoga provides. But only a few focus on mature adults and the benefits of yoga for older generations. While it’s true that developing a regular yoga practice early in life may help ward off some aspects of aging, there has been much speculation recently on the benefits as we age, specifically for those over 50.
As we age, our posture tends to slouch and our bodies compress. This can lead to a multitude of weaknesses and health issues if left unattended. Yoga is an excellent way to combat these effects by strengthening and expanding the lungs and oxygenation, increasing muscle strength and joint flexibility, and overall enhancing a sense of vitality. Even some beginner’s poses provide great benefit. For example, bridge pose strengthens the entire back of the body and provides a chest opening stretch that counteracts the effects of hunching over. Downward-facing dog increases bone density, as well as being a gentle inversion that allows fresh oxygen and blood into the brain. A gentle crescent lunge can help alleviate plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the foot and ankle that plagues many senior citizens.
Even more specifically, The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), suggests certain poses are particularly beneficial for different generations over 50 when combined with proper diet and exercise. For example, in the 50s yoga can help combat early signs of heart disease, reduce hypertension, and strengthen bones. This is particularly important for menopausal women as it helps fight off the risk of osteoporosis and thinning bones. It can help with healthy weight maintenance, as well as increase waning concentration and focus. Chair pose and Tree pose are both recommended for this age bracket.
In the 60s, joints begin to stiffen, muscle strength may diminish, and balance can be impacted. Yoga can help improve strength and balance and help reduce the risk of falls. Additionally, yoga can help this generation reduce the possibility of increased anxiety by inducing what is known as ‘the relaxation response,’ which is the body’s way of regulating stress. Cobbler’s pose and Warrior One are very beneficial for these health issues.
In addition to the health limitations listed above, yoga is beneficial in the 70s for toning muscle and aiding proprioceptive difficulties. This is the body’s sense of position in space and greatly influences its ability to maintain balance and ambulate without running into things or increased clumsiness. Further, learning alternate breathing is very beneficial in this age bracket. It increases relaxation and enhances brain function by allowing the body to find balance between the left and right hemispheres of the brain and influencing the logical and emotional components of personality. This, in turn, boost mood and increases positivity. Balance mind, balanced body. Half chair at the wall and alternate nostril breathing are excellent exercise for this stage of life.
Obviously, yoga isn’t just good for the ‘kids’. It’s extremely beneficial for older adults. Whether you’re just a beginner at 50+ or you’ve practicing for years, it’s important for your health to keep up a consistent practice. This can be doing at it home, going to a class, or splurging on a retreat specifically catered to your age group or ability. Whether you prefer doing it solo or in a group, inside or out, hot or unheated, there is a yoga practice out there for everyone at any age. The important thing is just to get started with simple poses and build it from there for your personal goals. The how is up to you, the why is proven by science to improve health and combat aging.
This guest post was graciously written by make-up professional, Cassie Brewer. Cassie lives in Southern California and, in her free time, enjoys writing about her passion (make-up of course!) and everything beauty related. Nothing makes her happier than helping others be the best version of themselves they can be. You can read more at cassiebrewer.weebly.com and follow her on twitter @Cassiembrewer