Yoga is not only safe for older practitioners, but also effective in keeping the mind and body in good health. Physically speaking, yoga helps us retain muscular strength, flexibility, balance, and particularly for those of us over 50, good posture. Yoga can be an excellent low-impact exercise option that’s easier on the body than activities like running or weight-lifting.
It’s never too late to begin a yoga practice that will help you regain what aging is taking away. You can start from wherever you are, regardless of age, and progress from there. There are folks who practice well into their 90’s.
The rate at which muscle mass is lost is much lower for those who exercise regularly. Strength can be gained even if we lose muscle mass. Putting stress on bones increases the absorption of calcium, keeping them strong and healthy. Various yoga postures use the body’s weight to strengthen the core muscles of the torso as well as those in the arms and legs while at the same time putting stress on the skeletal system. Moving from posture to posture enhances blood flow to the joints which keeps them healthy and lubricated, which helps our range of motion.
The sooner a person adopts a regular yoga practice, the greater the benefits will be as he or she ages.
How about those aches and pains that come with aging? All too often we resort to medication to ease the misery when a simple exercise program might do the trick. Ailments such as sciatica and plantar fasciitis (a tightening of the Achilles tendon) can be greatly alleviated and in some cases chronic joint or back pain significantly reduced by carefully stretching and strengthening the muscles which support the affected area of the body. Gently exercising arthritic joints, although uncomfortable at times, can stabilize the joint and possibly even slow the progression of the disease. Chest opening postures help maintain flexibility in the spine to give us a more erect posture. Not only are we in less pain, but we look younger and feel better as well.
What about Bikram Yoga for older adults?
Yoga and Hot Yoga have their share of risks. If you are physically fit and healthy—or otherwise have gotten your doctor’s okay—you can try Bikram, but heed the following advice, which applies to all yoga training:
Make sure the class is taught by a qualified instructor (Our instructors are Bikram certified and have nine weeks of formal training). Never work out beyond your capacity (we remind you that it is not a competition). Stop if you get lightheaded or begin to feel unwell in any way. Make sure your mat provides good traction. Stay well-hydrated (drink at least two hours before class and even during class). Plain water is fine for most workouts (just don’t drink to excess). For classes lasting longer than an hour, a sports drink is good for replacing electrolytes like sodium that are lost in sweat.
Do not practice hot yoga, however, if you have high blood pressure or a heart condition or are pregnant. Choose our traditional yoga classes, which can have excellent psychological and physical benefits when practiced consistently, without the added physical stress and risks associated with exercising in extreme heat.
Although practicing yoga may not be the fountain of youth, some folks believe that it truly is. So if you want to look and feel years younger, come practice with us and experience the benefits for yourself in our hot yoga studio, Bikram Yoga Lake Norman, or at our new Lake Norman Yoga Center for Traditional Yoga.
I guarantee you won’t regret it.