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Yoga in Retirement

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Moving into the retirement phase of life brings you all kinds of new opportunities and possibilities.    After spending years of being dedicated to your work,  you  often  have more time to spend doing the things you love,  and also to pursue new interests and hobbies.  Many years ago retirement may have been associated with becoming more sedentary as people age, but the opposite is true today.  Retirement is the perfect time to continue, and pick up healthy habits and hobbies  that will promote longevity.    Although  much of the  media portrays yoga with a young person doing a complicated twist or handstand, that is not the full spectrum of what yoga has to offer.  People of all ages,  and abilities (less and more flexible) can enjoy yoga and receive lots of benefits from it.

There are many styles of yoga that are available and so every person  can find something to suit them.  The kind of yoga a person chooses depends on their age, current fitness level, physical ability and interest.    If someone is starting a practice for the first time, or after years of being sedentary (limited flexibility and strength), then a gentle hatha yoga practice or qigong  is recommended.   If someone is already an active person (playing sports, recreating etc.) then a more moderate practice may be appropriate.    If you are new to yoga, what is important is to do your own research.  There are many good books and internet resources that can answer basic questions.  The next step is to a find a yoga teacher in your area and talk to them about what you need and also learn about them and their qualifications and experience.  In  the end, you want to work with someone who you feel comfortable with, and that has the experience you want.  

The benefits of yoga for seniors are much the same as those for the general population: increased muscle tone, joint mobility, balance, strength, and improved mood.   A yoga class can be a great way to meet new people and to be part of community that is dedicated to being healthy and happy.  A regular yoga practice can be therapeutic for tight shoulders, tight hamstrings, sore lower back etc.   Through  pranayama (breathing exercises) lung capacity is increased. You can expect your posture to improve and you may sleep better. If you experience stress, yoga can help counteract that too. It is important to remember  that these benefits will not come overnight after a single yoga class. Yoga is like anything - it takes times and practice.  If you take piano lessons for a year, you will play differently after a year.  If you take yoga lessons for a year, you will move differently in your body.  

As with any new fitness activities, it is always recommended that you check with your doctor first to ensure that the yoga practice will be beneficial for your specific needs.  

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