“Is yoga good for the aging population? My answer is yes.”
Dr. Loren Fishman recently answered questions in the NY Times about starting a yoga practice later in life. It starts by describing the cognitive and physical fluidity in which Mr. Iyengar himself moves through the world…
“I think Mr. Iyengar is an example of what yoga can do for an aging human. To me he seemed like a man 30 years younger. And, in a way, beyond age.”
In the past, there has been a general lack of information, representation and immediate options out there for new midlife yogis … but they are finally getting some attention (we can’t let the nonagenarians have all the fun!)
Here are some highlights!
- Advice on how to start a yoga practice after 50 and the best style(s): “find out what your liabilities are … [make an] appointment with an experienced and smart yoga teacher, one on one… chronic conditions are cumulative, by definition: when you’re older you need the individual attention that yoga has traditionally offered.””I believe the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar are the most anatomically sophisticated and therapeutically oriented, but there are many other good types of yoga… Also the former Anusara program is good, as is Integral Yoga… You’ll need a resourceful and sensitive person to get you started, and to introduce you to an appropriate yoga practice that you can do every day. Then, after a month or two or three, you should go back to that person for a reassessment and suggestions about how to progress to the next step. Yoga, practiced consistently, does good things to your temperament and perceptions”
- Age-related risk factors: “arteries become more brittle, and are more easily injured… Shoulder stand, plow, and gate pose should be trimmed back… Our sense of balance can also be degraded with age, decreased sensitivity to changes in direction and momentum … proprioception … and less acute vision.”
- Thoughts on slowing metabolism: “[yoga] lowers blood pressure and reduces atrial fibrillation and in general calms things down. Yoga [trim’s your weight]… by stretching the organ, the stomach, which will then send turn-off signals to the appetite centers in the brain.
- Osteoporosis and yoga spinal movement: “forward bending does produce more osteoporotic spinal fractures … So forward bends should be done only with a straight back, or … lying on your back and raising your straight legs as far as possible… twists appear to be safe, provided you keep your back straight.”
“I think yoga is a perfect match for us as we grow older, because it’s no-impact, good for flexibility, balance, coordination, strength and attitude.” … and it’s never too late to start!
And for more inspiration to start yoga, no matter what your age… who says you can’t start something new in your 90s?
Some other resources: