Yoga for the over 60s 

Thinking about taking up yoga in retirement? McCarthy Stone shows you how with expert advice on the benefits of yoga and the best yoga poses to try.

What is yoga and what are the benefits?

Yoga is an old Indian discipline that is both spiritual and physical. It involves breathing techniques, exercise and meditation to improve health and happiness. The practice is over 5,000 years old, but it’s now more popular than ever and you can  join groups at health clubs, leisure centres and gyms.

According to the NHS, there’s evidence that regular yoga practice is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains, depression and stress. It’s considered to be a safe and effective way for people of all age to increase their strength, flexibility and balance.

 It’s  popular with people with arthritis, because it’s a gentle way of promoting flexibility and strength. Some studies show that it can also reduce pain and mobility problems in people with knee osteoarthritis.

The Benefits of Yoga - an expert view 

We spoke to Thomas Pedersen, a trained osteopath and yoga course teacher.

Is yoga a good hobby for retirement?

Absolutely! There really isn’t an ideal age for when you should start yoga. If anything, starting yoga when you’re over 55 is probably going to show you the greatest benefits.

A lot of people don’t start yoga until they’re over 70 and many people say they wish they’d started sooner. No matter how old you are, you’ll find a class that’s suitable for your age group.

What are the health benefits of doing yoga in retirement?

The benefits of yoga are endless. If you practice yoga regularly, you can decrease aches and pains, strengthen your bones, reduce high blood pressure and experience less anxiety.

Plus, yoga can also improve your flexibility and increase your normal range of movement, so you’ll find it easier to perform daily activities.

Can yoga make you feel younger?

It may not be physically noticeable, but it’s been proven that regular yoga (alongside a healthy diet) can reduce the fading of telomeres.

It’s also worth remembering the health benefits that come with yoga. These can make you feel more active and energetic. You could even find it easier to complete tasks you thought you could no longer do.

How can you start doing yoga?

There are so many ways to get involved in yoga and joining a yoga group is a perfect example.

But, my personal favourite way of getting involved is through online yoga classes. This way, you can practice from the comfort of your own home or wherever you choose to access the course. 

Are there social benefits?

There’s no denying some yoga poses prompt a few laughs and everyone taking part may be questioning if they’re doing the pose correctly, but this only helps to bond the group together.

As a result, if you’re joining a yoga class, you can easily make new friends during or after the session. If you’re practicing through online classes, you can get your closest friends to join you.

Yoga in retirement: The best yoga poses

As with any other form of exercise, the best yoga poses will depend on your physical condition and your flexibility. If you’re considering yoga in retirement, then you should start with some basic exercises before you build up to trickier poses. This way, you reduce your chances of picking up an injury. The best yoga poses for retirees are:

Mountain Pose

This is a low-impact pose that helps you focus on your breathing. It’s also a foundational pose for other standing poses, so it’s a great pose to start with.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel, with your arms down by your side
  • Spread your toes and press them into the floor, making sure your body weight is distributed evenly through your feet
  • Squeeze your thighs to engage leg muscles
  • Make sure your body is aligned with your head over your heart, your heart over your hips and your hips over your ankles

When you’re in this position, breathe deeply:

  • When you inhale, lengthen your spine and reach the crown of your head towards the sky
  • When you exhale, let your shoulders relax and reach your fingertips towards the ground
  • Repeat 5-10 times

Tree Pose

This is one of the most famous yoga poses in the world and it’s great for improving balance and preventing falls.

  • Stand with your legs together
  • Put your arms straight above your head with your palms together
  • Raise your right leg slightly off the ground. Your heel should be touching the inside part of your ankle and your toes should still be on the ground
  • Balance for 20-30 seconds
  • Repeat with the other leg

As you gain balance, you can raise your foot higher. Once you’ve built your balance, you should be able to rest the sole of your foot on the inside of the lower leg. Eventually, you’ll master the position and this involves having your raised leg bent, with the foot resting on the inside of the opposite leg above your knee.

Bird Dog

 This is a great pose if you’re looking to work on your abdominals and back support.

  • Start by kneeling
  • Stretch one arm forwards and the opposite leg backwards
  • Imagine you have an object resting on your back and draw your belly button towards your spine
  • Hold the pose for a breath and then switch sides
  • Repeat 5-10 times

Downward Facing Dog

This is great for joint health, flexibility and strength. Plus, if you have wrist issues, you can start on your forearms instead.

  • Start on your hands and knees
  • Tuck your toes under
  • Lift your hips up and back until your body forms a triangle
  • Now use your core strength and legs to bring the weight back as much as possible
  • Stay in this position for 5-8 breaths, lower yourself down and repeat 5-10 times.

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