4 Ways to Ease Your Way Into Yoga for Seniors
6 weeks ago, I took my first yoga class in decades. It was a humbling, emotional experience. Even though I had been practicing with our Sixty and Me gentle yoga and chair yoga DVDs, I wasn’t emotionally prepared for completely immersing myself in this activity after so long.
Like many women, I had become quite disconnected from my body. Perhaps more tragically, I had become disconnected from my mind and spirit. Do you ever feel the same?
I have to be honest. Even though I consider myself to be a strong person, there were times, in the first few days, when I felt like quitting. No-one would even know, I thought. I could just take it easy and enjoy days filled with massages and coconut cocktails.
Now, 6 weeks later, I am so glad that I stuck with it. I still have a long way to go, but, I feel like I am through the worst of it.
Now, for the first time in a long time, I am truly on a path to health and happiness.
Why Do So Many of Us Struggle with Yoga as Older Adults?
Looking back, it’s easy to see why starting yoga was so hard for me. As older women, we are bombarded with messages about what getting older does to our bodies. Some of these messages are true. Others, upon reflection, seem more like excuses. Separating the two can be tricky!
In addition, it takes guts to step into a room filled with 20-something-year-old women. As much as we say that we don’t care what other people think about our appearance, we still don’t want to look foolish or out of place.
So, to help the women in our community who may be on the fence about starting yoga, I wanted to share some of my learnings from the last 6 weeks. Here are 4 things that can help you to start your yoga journey, no matter your age or level of fitness.
Ask for Support
As older women, many of us struggle to ask for help – emotional or otherwise. In my case, it took me several months to work up the courage to ask my son and his wife to help me on my yoga journey.
Just over a year ago, they spent 2 months in Bali. They convinced me to travel here and helped me to prepare for my adventure.
You don’t have to travel all of the way to Bali to get help on your yoga journey. Almost every city around the world has a yoga studio. Most of us have at least one friend who does yoga on a regular basis. Reach out to them. You will be glad you did!
There is another reason that asking for support is powerful; it can help you to make a commitment. When we tell someone that we are going to do something, it creates a powerful incentive for us to follow through. If you don’t have a friend or family member to commit to, consider posting your commitment in the conversations section of the Sixty and Me website.
Find a Teacher
Yoga teachers come in all shapes and sizes. They have different techniques and personal styles. Some of them treat yoga as a form of exercise. Others are much more spiritual about their yoga practice.
Take the time to find someone who resonates with you. If the first yoga teacher you come across isn’t your cup of tea, don’t be discouraged. Keep looking until you find someone that resonates with you.
Of course, finding someone to practice with in person is fantastic. When you go to a yoga class, you have the added benefit of personal attention.
At the same time, there are plenty of benefits to doing gentle yoga at home. One of the most obvious is that you can do it on your own schedule.
When I was organizing our Sixty and Me yoga videos, I searched high and low for someone who understood the unique needs of older adults. I was so happy when I found Cat Kabira!
Be Honest with Yourself
This technique won’t work for everyone, but, it certainly made a big difference to me! For a long time, I convinced myself that I wasn’t that out of shape.
Before I started yoga, I decided to take some pictures of myself. I wanted to see what my posture looked like and how flexible I was. It wasn’t about judging myself. It was about being honest with myself.
If you don’t feel comfortable taking pictures of yourself, that’s ok. There are plenty of other ways to get motivated. That said, I wanted to mention this option for the women who think like me and would benefit from it.
Think About Your Life Holistically
Good behaviors create virtuous cycles. Eating better gives you more energy. Having more energy makes you more likely to stick with yoga. Sticking with yoga helps you to feel better about yourself. Feeling better about yourself makes it more likely that you will be able to avoid comfort foods.
If you don’t feel like going to a yoga class right away, don’t be hard on yourself. Instead, start with something easier. Make a commitment to eating one healthy meal a day. Then, do a couple of simple stretching exercises from the comfort of your home.
Before you know it, you will have the confidence to try yoga for the first time.
Would you like to try gentle yoga? What are the biggest barriers to you starting your practice? Do you already do yoga? What advice would you give the other women in our community who are just getting started? Please join the conversation.