In my yoga practice, I work with many older people. I remember taking a yoga class years ago from Tao Porchon-Lynch and just being amazed at her gracefulness, agility, mobility, posture and attitude for someone in her late 80’s (she’s now 96 and still teaching and practicing yoga!) or anyone for that matter.
One of my favorite yoga teachers when I first started teaching used to tell us that yoga makes you age in reverse. I have to believe that it’s kind of true. Here are some of the reasons why seniors should do yoga.
1. Increased Balance
The leading number of injuries in older people usually stems from falls. Yoga helps us with balance and for older people this is huge! If you can practice and maintain good balance as you age, you’ll be able to prevent accidents and live with much more confidence and courage.
2. Joint Pain Relief
Yoga helps lubricate the joints and increase flexibility and mobility–something that we easily lose as we age. As seniors, it’s not only important to stay limber to relieve pain in the joints; it’s also crucial to maintain good posture. I always feel so bad when I see an older person completely hunched over.
3. More Energy
There’s a magic light in older people who practice yoga and continue to move and breathe deeply as they age. Yoga keeps us young because we move our bodies and tap in to our breath on a consistent basis. Instead of getting old and allowing ourselves to fizzle out, yoga helps older people maintain an energetic, youthful lifestyle.
4. More Grey Matter
Yoga keeps us sharp and helps keep our brain synapses firing. Studies have shown the prefrontal cortex in those who meditate (and yoga is a moving meditation) is larger than those who don’t. Meditative movement and deep breathing keeps our brains functioning optimally. Older yogis have a better chance of keeping their wits about them.
5. More Muscle, Stronger Bones
Yoga is a weight bearing activity that strengthens our bones and muscles. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass and yoga can help us maintain and even build more muscle that helps to combat weight gain and keep our bodies strong. Yoga can also help to maintain our bone density, which is especially crucial for aging women.
I know I personally will practice as long as I possibly can, and I hope to be a role model like Tao and show other elderly people just how amazing a yoga practice can be.
Yoga is low impact and can be done anywhere and anytime in any space and at any age. I think it’s the wonder drug and should be prescribed for anyone wanting to maintain a healthy body and mind and have a long, beautiful life.