Stay Young with Yoga
Posted by Katie Brown, 01-Feb-2021
What are the five main conditions of the ageing body – and how can you stay youthful with yoga?
At first the signs of ageing can be subtle – feeling a little stiff when we get out of bed in the morning, finding our jeans are a little more snug and perhaps noticing an extra line or two when we scrutinise our reflection in the mirror.
These changes tend to happen from our mid-40s and affect everyone in different ways. How we look and feel is unique to us and in part due to our lifestyle, environment, genetics, mindset and work conditions.
Ageing is a fact of life, but yoga can help us to stay youthful in mind, body and spirit. Which is why Seniors Yoga is becoming increasingly popular.
The IYTA’s Beryl Broadbent has written and presents a hugely popular two-day training to help yoga teachers focus on the needs of students aged 50+
She has been teaching yoga for Seniors for the past 25 years and presenting the IYTA’s Senior Yoga Training for the past two years.
Beryl says: “Yoga can bring focus to the mind by helping people get back in touch with their breath. In the past 25 years, yoga has been widely accepted as a health regime and a lot of people start yoga because it is accessible, gentle and simple. It is beneficial in many ways – from improving posture to encouraging deeper sleep, awareness of the breath and helps people connect with others and their communities.”
FIVE main conditions of ageing
#1 – Arthritis and getting stiffer – arthritis can occur at any age, but it tends to be more prevalent as we age. We can also find our joints can become stiffer and we find it harder to climb stairs and get up off our yoga mats.
Beryl says: “I have a lot of students who were athletes or runners and as they age, they find their body can’t handle ballistic impact movements. Yoga helps to keep joints mobile and active in a safe and controlled way while reducing the severity and pain of arthritic conditions.”
#2 – Weight gain – as you age you lose muscle mass and typically become less active which means you’ll burn less calories. Our hormonal balance also changes as we go through menopause – and don’t forget men have their equivalent of menopause too. Beryl adds that as our children become more independent, our workload around the home shifts (of course this is a benefit, but the downside is that we aren’t running around as much and as such our activity levels drop.)
In Seniors Yoga classes, depending on the ability and age range of the students, Beryl will often bring in some aerobics movements such as marching, heel taps, easy walks and even grapevines.
#3 – Posture – as we get older there is a tendency for us to hunch forwards and for the back to round resulting in a stooped posture or even a kyphosis. We can also suffer bone loss.
Yoga encourages us to stand tall and to release neck and shoulder tension, open the heart and breathe deeply into the lungs and feeling the entire rib cage expand and release with the breath.
Beryl believes in focusing on postural awareness. She says: “I find that shoulder rolls help to loosen up the chest and release into the shoulders. I encourage students to feel the shoulder blades slide down into the hip pockets and think of having angel wings fold across your back, to encourage the chest to open and the shoulders to soften.
#4 Cardiovascular health and high blood pressure – as we age our risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke all increase. Many people aren’t aware they even have high blood pressure, so it’s important they have regular health checks. Yoga helps keep people active, can reduce stress and helps to keep body weight regular. Some of the breathing techniques such as Nadi Sodhana may have a direct impact on our cardiovascular health.
#5 Stress of midlife – the stress of ageing is a different kind of stress than in our earlier years. We are unlikely to have the responsibility of children, we may lose our independence, have to readjust to retirement and cope with grief and loss. There are also the physical symptoms of ageing to deal with such as loss of hearing, sight and mobility. As we know, yoga helps us cope with the changing landscape of our life and gives us tools to ease stress, tension and anxiety.
These are just some of the ways ageing can impact us – and some of the ways yoga can help. To discover more about this wonderful practice sign up to our two-day training NOW
The IYTA course is available online and face-to-face and Beryl will be delivering the course face-to-face in Brisbane on March 13 – 14, 2021