Age should not be a barrier from stopping you from adding yoga into your life. In yoga you focus on holistic health and spiritual growth. Starting yoga over 50 is a time for moving inward which is a positive thing.
Yoga for men over 50 is a very safe activity. It is very effective in keeping the mind and body in good health. You will benefit from doing yoga in the following ways:
One of the best things about yoga is that it is very adaptable. This means that even if you are older and less flexible you can still benefit hugely from a regular practice. Additionally as we age our lives tend to become more sedentary and this is when you really need the benefits of yoga over 50.
Provides Regular Exercise
Most styles of yoga combine balance, flexibility, and strength. These are the core to effective exercise. Unlike other exercises such as running and weight training, yoga is a low-impact activity. This means you are less likely to get injured from doing it.
Yoga over 50 for Resistance Training
Men doing yoga over 50 will experience renewed vigour. Yoga is a form of resistance training that improves muscles strength and tone as well as maintaining flexibility and balance. This type of training also helps in keeping your bones strong.
Yoga over 50 focuses on using your own body weight to increase strength. As you are not adding weight you lessen the likelihood of injury. It is also very efficient as many of the poses work or more than one part of your body as well as activating your core. The variety yoga offers means that it works for most training goals. You should still build up a sweat for a cardio workout and can lose weight.
Maintaining Good Health
Regular exercise is highly beneficial for your health and yoga can help in many ways. It will lower your risk of heart disease and lessen symptoms of depression. If you suffer from headaches or diabetes, yoga over 50 for men is very beneficial. Yoga can also relieve some of the pain from arthritis and some forms of cancer.
Maintaining good bone health as we age is a challenge. You reach your maximum bone mass around 30 so you have nearly two thirds of your life to maintain it. Bones are living tissue which your body constantly breaks down and builds up gain. As you age some bone loss is natural. Your goal is to maintain a health balance of bone destruction and reconstruction. The consequence of not maintaining the balance is that your bones can become less dense.
Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become less dense, predisposing them to fractures. There are no obvious symptoms of the disease. Oftentimes, people are unaware they have it unless they’re tested for it, or unfortunately, they find out after they break a bone.
Yoga can be beneficial for people with osteoporosis. A small study in 2009 found that practising yoga can actually increase bone density if done consistently and properly. Yoga also improves balance and flexibility, which can prevent falls and therefore prevent fractures.
Balance and Flexibility
Many poses for men doing yoga over 50 focus on strengthening the abdominal muscles. Regularly doing these poses will drastically improve your core stability.. You will see many benefits in your balance, becoming steadier on your feet and reducing your risk of falls.
Improving your flexibility when you are older is challenging but not impossible. It takes time to stretch regularly and the benefits of the improvements are less obvious than cardio or strength training. Over time, however, lack of stretching begins to catch up with you very quickly.
Yoga movements can be fantastic stretching exercises for seniors. Holding a pose for several breaths encourages your muscles and connective tissues to relax and loosen, which helps to increase your range of motion. In fact, research in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy has shown that regularly engaging in yoga can dramatically boost the overall flexibility of older adults.
Assists Injury Recovery & Rehabilitation
If you are struggling to recover from an injury or rehabbing from surgery, yoga can assist you. For men doing yoga over 50, regular practice will also protect them against future injuries. Yoga is also excellent in identifying the unseen areas that can develop into chronic or long-term problems. Poor posture can develop into serious medical conditions that may result in surgery.
Yoga combines deep stretching and breathing. Learning to breathe properly is a surprising advantage of doing yoga over 50. Revising the way you breathe you will provide optimal conditions for all your muscles to recover. Holding yoga poses for 5 minutes or longer provides intense but restorative benefits. Tight, sore or inflamed muscles, tissues, fascia, and joints respond well to yoga.
Reducing Anxiety and Stress
You are at an age where there is still a lot going on in your life with lots of responsibilities. Additionally, you need to support your family, not just children but even grandchildren. You also have a career, mortgage and lots of bills and expenses!
Yoga over 50 empowers men to manage multidimensional responsibilities. Handling responsibilities without anxiety or getting stressed is good for your health. You will have more energy and feel more empowered to deal with difficult situations. Doing yoga over 50 focuses your attention through breathing, lessening anxiety when the pressure is on.
Keeping your Mind Sharp
There is no argument that physical activity keeps the mind sharp as you age. Men who do yoga over 50 will be combining balance, flexibility, and strength throughout their practice. The poses need you to focus your mind and deliver many long and short term benefits.
Studies have shown that regular yoga improves your brain’s accuracy and speed. Yoga also strengthens brain function and helps stave off cognitive decline. In a 12-week long study, volunteers who did yoga improved memory and mood to a greater degree than those who performed conventional brain training.
Sustain Sexual Wellness
The physical practice of yoga will ensure that you have a body that you're more comfortable with. The physiological characteristics will mean you are more relaxed and focused. Doing yoga will help you become more present in the moment and not striving for an end goal. Yoga for men over 50 combines this mindset with confidence in your body.
So being more relaxed can only lead to a more intimate and joyful connection with your partner. Sex is more than the physical experience, just as yoga is more than physical exercise. With both activities, an important and powerful mental and spiritual component is present. With sex, a powerful emotional component is always present.
Yoga over 50 - How to start
Yoga has a lot to offer for men over 50, but I appreciate that starting can be slightly intimidating. I would not recommend jumping into a 90-minute hot yoga class! Here are a few tips and considerations to get you started on your yoga journey.
I would be very surprised if your doctor is not supportive about your starting yoga. The medical profession recognises the physical and mental benefits of a regular yoga practice. Having a health check before you undertake any new physical activity is highly recommended.
If you have any physical issues with your back, hips or knees you should tread carefully. Even though yoga is low impact exercise and there are many slow paced, injuries are common. Starting yoga without consulting your doctor can lead to further injuries. Be honest about your current health and physical abilities and choose an appropriate yoga style and class.
A good quality yoga mat is an important element in establishing a regular yoga practice. It is a constant reminder for you to practice and when you lay it out you put your focus on your practice. You will develop a connection with your mat over time and it will provide positive energy on the days you need it. It also allows you to take your practice everywhere. Finally it is good for hygienic reasons and you will be able to take good care of it.
Wear clothes that are stretchy and comfortable. Movement is a big part of yoga and you will be getting into new and unfamiliar positions. Your old gym gear may be appropriate but as you will be doing lots of stretching and bending you may need to make some adjustments.
Your bottom clothing can either be shorts or cropped or long stretchable pants. If you sweat a lot, shorts are probably the better option. Longer shorts will keep you warmer and provide any extra layer of cushioning for the knees. For your top go with a loose but not too loose t-shirt or vest, if you want more access around the arms and shoulders.
For the large majority of men, I believe yoga props like blocks and straps are essential. We are not naturally flexible as women or even teenage boys, some of the first yoga practitioners! Yoga props offer alternative, accessible variations allowing you to experience the pose. Without the support of the prop you don’t have to push your body and risk injury.
Establishing a good alignment and posture in yoga poses ensures you get the most out of them. When used correctly, props don’t allow you to cheat. Instead you learn the true mechanics of the pose. Finally props reduce the struggle or avoid the pain of getting into a pose altogether.
This probably the most important part of a practice—especially for an older body. Stiff joints may take more time to relax, and a fast-paced class is less likely to offer that. Make sure to do warm-ups as part of your home practice: Simple warm-ups and a few chair sun salutations can help you make headway in consistent practice.
If you are attending a class, arrive early. Introduce yourself to the teacher and then have a quick chat with them. Let them know your experience and why you are attending the class. If you have any medical conditions also let the teacher know as they will be able to recommend modifications to you. Many yoga teachers will touch students to help with their alignment, if you are uncomfortable with being touched let the teacher know.
Remember that even a little practice can make a big difference. Try to find 10 to 20 minutes a day, the earlier the better so that your yoga doesn’t get back-shelved when you get busy. You can do a short online class, or even just do a few simple stretches each day. Of course, if you have more time, you could choose a longer class.
Just keep in mind that even a little bit of yoga can make a big difference when done regularly. Making yourself feel guilty about not practising for a full hour every day may discourage progress and continuity
Practice the poses you find challenging, as well as the poses and movements that are easy for you. In home practice, no one’s going to know if you avoid poses that remind you of your tight hamstrings or the weakness in your arms. Make a point of working on at least one pose that you find challenging each week at home.
Yoga over 50 Styles
There are many styles of yoga from Bikram to Yin and all offer unique differences. Whether you are aiming to improve your balance and flexibility or want to relieve stress there is a right style for you. Below are a few styles for you to consider:
This style is methodical and precise with a strong emphasis on proper form. You focus on the structural alignment of the physical body through the practice of asanas. Detail-oriented and slow-paced, Iyengar yoga is good for beginners. You may use props -- belts, blocks, and pillow-like bolsters -- to get into poses with correct alignment.
Practising Iyengar yoga strengthens the muscles responsible for posture, mainly the back, core and legs. Making small adjustments to your alignment helps other smaller muscles get stronger.
A style that combines the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga together well. A typical Kundalini yoga class consists of three parts: an opening chant (known as “tuning in”) followed by a brief warm-up for your spine, a kriya (which is a sequence of postures paired with breathing techniques), and a closing meditation or song. Chanting and singing are also key components of Kundalini yoga.
A therapeutic form of yoga where you focus on slowing down and opening your body through passive stretching. Props are used to totally support the body, and poses are held for a long time, sometimes up to 10 minutes. The longer holds allow your muscles to relax deeply. The active relaxation is excellent for reducing stress and it is not uncommon for people to fall asleep in class.
A style that is very popular in modern western culture. You connect poses together by flowing from one to another and matching them to your breathing. The pace of the class is quite rapid so a reasonable level of fitness is required. There is a strong emphasis on the transitions between postures so the routines are usually continuous. With all that said, it is suitable for beginners as the poses are simple and straightforward.
Similar to restorative yoga, Yin is the best yoga for increasing flexibility. This is because the poses stretch and target both the deep connective tissues between the muscles, and the fascia throughout the body. The aim is to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility as the poses stretch and exercise the bone and joint areas.
A non-traditional style, chair yoga is accessible to anyone who can sit! It is an ideal exercise for those suffering from conditions, such as chronic pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoporosis, and multiple sclerosis. It may also benefit people over a certain age who have trouble moving through the up and down motions of traditional yoga. Chair yoga allows them to stay stabilised.
Chair yoga can improve your flexibility, concentration and strength, while boosting your mood, and reducing stress and joint strain
Lets Get Started
Here are some DVD and online classes that are good introduction to Yoga over 50 for men:
Yoga cultivates a mind-body connection, combining stretching and strengthening postures with deep breathing and relaxation. Poses can easily be modified or adapted to suit an individual's needs, therefore men doing yoga over 50 should give it a try. In fact, it can be an excellent way to keep your body strong and healthy without the joint stress that comes from other activities like weightlifting or jogging.