We’ve all heard the promises about yoga for seniors. Yoga will help you to experience healthy aging. Yoga will help you to reduce stiffness and increase your energy. Yoga is a gateway to a healthier lifestyle after 60.
Well, after 8 weeks in Bali, I can tell you that, while these promises are true, they are only part of the story.
Here are 8 things that I learned about yoga for seniors after 2 months on this magical island.
When people talk about yoga for seniors, they have a tendency to overemphasize just how easy it is to get started. As a result, people often develop unrealistic expectations, which, ultimately, can hold them back on their yoga journey.
Yoga is definitely lower impact than weight lifting or running, but, that doesn’t make it easy. For the first couple of weeks, it’s likely that you will feel a bit out of your comfort zone. This is normal. Don’t give up!
All I can say is that it does get easier. It’s not about finding a yoga class that is gentle. It’s about being gentle with yourself.
We all know about the physical benefits of yoga. We’ve heard time and time again that yoga can help us to be more flexible, reduce stiffness and find more energy.
These are definitely important goals, but, I have found that the emotional and psychological benefits of yoga are even more profound.
In other words, yoga is not just about making yourself stronger on the outside – it is about toughening yourself up on the inside.
As you learn to understand your body, you will be more likely to make good decisions in terms of the food you eat, the exercises you do and even the people you associate with.
This may seem somewhat contradictory, given the fact that I just talked about how difficult yoga can be at the beginning, but, it’s true. Yoga feels good.
There is something about connecting with your body that is deeply satisfying. Even if you feel a little discomfort, you know that you are doing something good for yourself.
One of my favorite parts of the day is sitting down to relax after a long yoga session. At these special times, my body feels 20 pounds lighter. I can also think more clearly. It’s a magical feeling.
Yoga may not help you to burn calories as well as running or playing tennis, but, it can still help you to lose weight.
Beyond the fact that yoga actually does help you to burn calories, it also helps you to make healthy decisions. It can also help you to remove stress, which is an eating trigger for many women, including myself.
I don’t know how yoga impacts my body chemistry, but, I always leave each class with a big smile on my face. Have you noticed the same thing?
On a slightly deeper level, by the time we reach our 60s, we all have our share of emotional scars. These wounds sit just below the level of our conscious awareness. We don’t dwell on them, but, they still impact our positivity.
Doing yoga for the last 8 weeks has been an emotional experience. I was prepared to put in a lot of work. I was less prepared for the emotions, fears and memories that would resurface as a result of my practice.
I’ve cried more than a couple of times over the last 2 months. Now, looking back, I feel like a stronger person. Yoga has helped me to surface many of the issues that were holding me back.
Ultimately, it has made me a more positive person.
As I’ve written about before, so many of us have what I would call “accidental friends.” When our kids were in school, we spent most of our social time with their friends’ families. Or, perhaps we hung out with our colleagues.
Now that we are in our 60s, many of us are taking a long, hard look at our relationships. We have decided that we don’t just need more people in our lives. We need the right people in our lives.
I have met so many wonderful people on this trip to Bali. Everyone has been so gentle and warm with me. Now, I see yoga as an important part of my social life, not just a cornerstone of my inner life.
There is certainly value in doing yoga once a week. If this is all you have time for, I say go for it!
That said, something shifts when you start doing yoga every day. You start to see yoga as being a way of life, not just an exercise program.
To be clear, I’m not saying that you need to adopt any of the spiritual beliefs that are popular among some yoga practitioners. Yoga can be enjoyed by people of all religions and cultural backgrounds.
Instead, I am arguing that the way that you look at food, people, travel, your body and so many other things will change when you start doing yoga every day. I can’t describe the transformation that I have gone through over the last 8 weeks, but, I feel it in every aspect of my body and mind.
No matter how strong we are, we all have things that hold us back in our lives. Sticking with something like yoga is an accomplishment. It reminds you to believe in yourself.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my trip to Bali over the last 8 weeks. Now, like so many visitors to this wonderful island, I need to figure out how I will continue my yoga practice at home.
Are you interested in trying yoga? Why or why not? Do you already practice yoga? What single piece of advice would you give the other women in our community who may be thinking about trying yoga for the first time? Please join the conversation.
Tags Yoga for Seniors