Does a day come when it's too late to start yoga? Rest assured, all yoga teachers will tell you that it is not! But what can yoga bring to people who have never practiced before at a young age? As you will see in this article, yoga for seniors is a fashionable concept. And if this is the case, it's good because there are many benefits to practicing yoga after 50. I regularly come into contact with seniors when I attend yoga classes. And each time, it fills me with joy to see them practicing. In fact, there is no age limit for yoga and I will explain why in this article. However, first of all, let's find out what is meant by senior yoga.
Yoga for seniors
Usually all audiences are mixed in a yoga class. The very young and older people can get together without any problems. However, in recent years, many yoga classes for seniors have been flourishing in yoga studios. Thus, the sessions are specially adapted for practitioners of a certain age... Okay, but what "certain age"?
You may be wondering at what age one is a senior citizen? It is difficult to answer this question because there is not one, but multiple definitions of this term. Indeed, the word senior doesn't mean much, since etymologically it simply means "older". For some dictionaries, one becomes senior after the age of 50. For municipalities, it is often from the age of 55. However, in sports, seniors are sometimes the category of over 40 years old. Nevertheless, some people will not want to use the term senior before 65, 70 or even 80 years old .
At the end of the day, being senior doesn't always mean you feel senior. It's just another label that you stick on a category of people. In fact, you can have a very different age on your ID card and in your head. But that's not a problem when it comes to getting on your yoga mat. And if you still feel young, that's good, because chances are that yoga will keep you that way.
Senior or not senior? Does it matter so much? Of course it doesn't! So it doesn't matter which category you want to fit into. I'm just sharing with you today an article that explains what yoga can do for you if you didn't start yoga when you were 20 years old. I will also tell you how you can adapt your yoga sessions when you have a loss of mobility, a pathology or during menopause and andropause.
If you have just retired, you probably have more time ahead of you. That doesn't mean your life stops! On the contrary! It's a good time to make new experiences and take care of yourself! If you've arrived here, I take it that yoga makes you look good. So let's take a closer look at what you can do from now on.
What is senior yoga?
Regardless of your age, first of all I would like to tell you that you are not obliged to practice a special senior yoga. Nevertheless, there are specific classes in certain schools that may seem adapted and reassuring to you to begin yoga after 50 years old. Indeed, you may prefer a yoga class where you won't be stressed at the idea of being too slow or not alert enough. This is perfectly normal!
But what happens in a yoga class for seniors? In this type of class, you will often enjoy a gentle yoga session. Indeed, the pace is slowed down in order to adapt each posture to your physical condition.
If you are new to yoga, you will have less apprehension in this type of class. Here, you will be able to understand your teacher's instructions and take the time to apply them at your own pace. Nevertheless, it is important to know that this will be the case in all beginner yoga classes.
Moreover, it happens to all of us at least once (per session for my part!) to do the opposite of the explanations, to get up too early, to forget to change posture and even to fall asleep in the child's posture... This is not really a problem. So, classes for seniors or not, enjoy your session with a light mind!
As you can imagine, the goal of yoga as a senior will not be to train you to make the bridge or the big gap. Nor will you be chaining a lot of very dynamic postures like in Vinyasa. However, your body will work smoothly throughout the session and you will certainly come out of it invigorated.
Generally, senior yoga sessions are adapted to avoid uncomfortable postures. For example, the low lunge may be difficult for you to hold. Indeed, staying on one knee can be painful from a certain age. Your teacher will therefore either avoid these postures or show you how to adapt them to avoid pain.
Moreover, in senior yoga, the postures will often be done in positions that are easy to take and habitual. For example, you would be surprised at all the great stretching postures that can be done on a simple chair. However, if you are not limited in your mobility, you will also appreciate postures performed lying on your back or standing. For example, you can work on your balance with an easy version of the tree posture that you will gradually learn to hold longer.
Yoga as a senior can also have many benefits for your body and mind. We will come back to this a little further down. In any case, your yoga teacher will always be present to adapt each posture to your condition. Your sessions can therefore be focused on periods of life (such as menopause) and instructions will be given according to your limits.
What type of yoga to practice as a senior?
Most of the time, the yoga classes dedicated especially to seniors are Hatha Yoga classes. This is a traditional style of yoga that falls into the category of gentle yoga. You will be able to practice various stretches of the upper and lower body on your mat, whether you are sitting, lying down or standing. An important place is also given to breathing and relaxation. The benefits are quickly felt on the body and mind.
However, from a certain age, you may be more comfortable practicing in a chair. Rest assured that there are dedicated yoga classes available, either in group sessions or on the internet.
On the other hand, if you have a loved one who would like to take up yoga but suffers from a loss of mobility, don't hesitate to practice a video with them when you are with them. Did you know that yoga sometimes even invites itself in retirement homes? Having worked in these places, I think it's a wonderful idea that can bring enormous benefits to the elderly.
Yoga adapted to seniors
You are a senior and you don't particularly want to participate in a course dedicated to this "category"? Don't worry! There is a wide variety of courses where you will be comfortable as a beginner even after the age of 50.
For example, you can discover hormonal yoga sessions. These classes can help you counterbalance the effects of menopause in order to better live this period of your life.
In addition, you can easily sign up for Hatha Yoga classes for beginners or Iyengar Yoga classes. This type of yoga is practiced with a lot of material to support and help the students. You will be able to meet people over 50 years old without any problem.
In addition, very gentle practices such as relaxation can also be beneficial to you. For example, Nidra yoga or restorative yoga are two types of yoga that require very little physical effort.
Nevertheless, you may feel like moving during your sessions. You may therefore be comfortable in an Ashtanga or Vinyasa yoga class. Why not take up aerial yoga as well? In short, don't hesitate to try several classes and see which one suits you best! There are no rules other than the ones you set for yourself.
Finally, in all yoga classes, be aware that you will be asked to make only the effort you are capable of. The goal will not be to push yourself to your limits. Above all, yoga allows you to come back to yourself and listen to yourself. If you keep this in mind, you will see that you have a place as a senior in any yoga class!
What are the benefits of yoga for seniors?
I repeat it regularly: practicing yoga has many benefits for both body and mind. However, when you are a senior, you will generally find specific benefits. Indeed, senior yoga will allow you to :
- Maintain your balance: From a certain age, falls are often the cause of an irreversible loss of mobility and, eventually, of dependency. Working on your balance is therefore an excellent way to avoid them and keep you healthy for as long as possible.
- Work on your flexibility and joints: Yoga is an ideal activity to soften your muscles and gently work your joints. This will be especially helpful in reducing your joint pain and feeling as though your body is not aging (or not aging at all).
- Soothe you : Yoga is very helpful in helping us reduce our anxiety level. Knowing that anxiety levels are often higher as the years go by, your session will quickly become a real gift every week.
- Recover and lighten your spirits: Old age pushes us through more sad events such as illness or the loss of loved ones. Yoga can therefore be a great way to keep our spirits up or to regain them when life brings us difficult circumstances. Yoga also allows us to look at things from a new perspective and to take a step back from what is happening to us.
- Have more energy: Yoga practice often consists of gentle exercises. However, yoga can still give you a lot of energy. You'll see, after your class, you'll feel great! In addition, certain postures can also help you strengthen your immunity.
- Reduce certain problems related to age: such as osteoarthritis pain, insomnia or tension problems.
- Take away loneliness: Participating in a senior yoga class can also allow you to meet a variety of people, broaden your circle of friends and thus not feel lonely.
Are there any contraindications to senior yoga?
As much as possible, yoga is accessible to everyone regardless of your health. In fact, even if postures are not possible, a teacher can always accompany a person to guided meditation or deep relaxation. It's still yoga! In addition, you will also find eye or facial yoga sessions that will have many benefits if your mobility is reduced.
In short, your state of health or physical condition should not prevent you from practicing. So, do not hesitate to contact a teacher before you think you are unable to practice for any reason.
Nevertheless, it is true that attending a senior yoga class will require you to meet a few criteria. For example, the person will need to be autonomous enough to understand and follow the teacher's instructions. The goal is not to fail. In some cases, private senior yoga classes may be more appropriate.
However, if you have a loved one who suffers from dementia for example, you will always be able to practice yoga with them. Often, by mimicry, the person will be able to accompany you in your movements. You will both find benefits and create a beautiful moment of complicity.
So, are there any contraindications to yoga? The answer is no. It is simply a question of adapting each session to the state of health of each person. To do this, it is good to remember that yoga is not just a series of postures to be practiced on a mat. One can do breathing, meditation... A wide range of exercises are also part of this discipline of life. Of course, don't make me say what I didn't say. It is out of the question to venture into a very intense class if you suffer from heart problems for example. The best thing to do is always talk to your doctor and your teacher to find the course that is best for you.
You now know what senior yoga is and how it can help people who didn't start yoga in their youth. In the end, it doesn't make much difference if you start practicing at 20 or 50 years old. In both cases, you will be afraid of not understanding anything, not being flexible enough or not sporty enough. And this is completely normal. But don't worry, your fears will soon be dispelled. So, if you still have doubts about what yoga can do for you, don't hesitate to take a first class. Senior yoga or not, you now have the choice!