Sunday, 10 January 2016

Am I too old to start yoga?

No! On the contrary, you are too old to not start yoga! 

The older you are the more you will feel the benefit from practising this ancient and healing art/science.

Yoga counteracts the aging process, by removing stiffness and increasing energy.

If you were given the name of an expensive medicine which would reduce pain, increase mobility, aid sleep, improve breathing, reduce anxiety and stress; you would try to afford that medicine, right? But because yoga is free - requiring commitment and effort, very few make that commitment or take it seriously.

I have had many inspirational experiences working with people over the age of 50. Reduced backaches & headaches, less pain in stiff joints, a general feeling of well-being and a rejuvenated vigor for life are most commonly reported improvements. But it is the ability to return to activities that have been denied that has the greatest effect on older people who practise yoga. Getting back into gardening, biking, walking uphill without struggling, and the simple but life changing ability to reach, bend and get up and down from the floor.

Sandy, age 65, did a handstand for the first time since her school days. "I have much better stamina and physical strength now. Yoga is reducing my back pain and enables me to live life to the full!"

Our culture's obsession with youth is meaningless in a yoga class. There is no 'good at yoga'. I was incredibly flexible when I began yoga in my late teens, and at the time I thought I was great at yoga. My teacher told me so and I could make my body look like those of the teacher and that of yoga photographs I had seen in books like 'Light on Yoga'. What I was missing was body intelligence. The subtlety and awareness that grows with each yoga practise. Gradually, over the years (and with the fantastic help of various yoga teachers), I have developed my inner compass and expanded my awareness. I still feel I have a long way to go, but am content that I am on the right road, and am loving the journey!

The fact that aging can bring greater understanding, expanded awareness and continued growth rather than deterioration is so refreshing for older people.

Over the years I have been taught yoga by people 3 times my age. And boy, has my body ached during and after their classes! Yoga levels the playing field because you very quickly realise there is no playing field! There is no comparison between students. You let go of your preconceived ideas of what you think you should be able to do and you just do what you can. And each time you step on to the mat, you start from wherever you are that day. 

Many of today's stress management techniques have their roots in yoga. Doctors, specialists, midwives and therapists the world over are recommending yoga to more and more people.

The hippy stigma is wearing off and more of these medical professionals have been impressed by seeing the benefits of yoga first hand (in addition to the numerous studies that clearly highlight people who do yoga are healthier and happier than those who don't).

Irrespective of your age and physical condition, the stretching, strengthening, stabilising aspects of yoga combined with the breathing and relaxation techniques can help you to improve the quality of your life and health.

You are in the driving seat.

Yoga requires committment. To greatly benefit you need to practise regularly (at least once a week). And it requires effort.

Not every class and/or teacher will suit you. Find one that does. Talk to teachers, try a few classes. 

I will be teaching a morning class specifically for the over 50s, so give me a ring if you may be interested in trying this out. Bring along a few friends and open yourself up to the possibility of feeling stronger, healthier, with less pain and more freedom to do what you want to do!

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