We were chatting during a podcast episode about Yoga and Meditation, Carla was sharing a story from one of her teachers, Rose Baudin. She described her as being in her 70s, vibrant and full of life and energy. She’s studied and practised yoga since 1968, taught since 1987, that is 53 years of yoga and still going. We thought, aha, now that is what we want from Yoga, yes headstands are grand (and we’re sure Rose has done many) however what we really want is to feel vibrant and energised into our 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond!
With the help of our Mum who is 63 right now, we are going to share with you all the reasons why you should do Yoga if you’re over 60, even if you’ve never done a single Yoga pose in your life (FYI, you have you just didn’t know!).
We recently asked Mum what she loves most about Yoga and also Pilates, she practices both inside our MerryBody Online Studio every single day, yes she is amazing. Mum said it’s the fact that it keeps her strength and mobility up so she can do all the necessary things to look after herself.
It’s not a flashy answer is it, it’s not about what she looks like, it’s not about being able to fit into the clothes she wore when she was 38 (although she can). It’s the fact that she can tie up her shoelaces and knows she will be able to for years to come.
Why does she think this? Why is this the most important thing for her?
Because she’s seen her parents and many older friends’ bodies (and also sadly, minds) slowly deteriorate. She’s seen how our Grandma, who did not exercise, lose bone density and the ability to pick things up, to bend and kneel to do her favourite things like garden.
She said lots of other things in this video interview. Go Mum!
The word ‘longevity’ is a buzzword. We all want to live longer… but what kind of life are we talking about?
For us, we want to live long lives but also flourishing lives, the lives where we feel strong mentally and physically. The facts are that at a certain age we begin to lose strength and fitness unless we do something about it. And this is why we ensure to exercise every day, whether it’s Yoga, Pilates or walking. We’re big believers in the saying ‘move it, or lose it’.
Alright now for the information you’re here for. The facts that might just help you become a dedicated Yoga practitioner.
This is why you should do Yoga if you’re over 60
Yoga builds bone density as you age
As you age you lose bone density and this can potentially lead to osteopenia, where your bones are weak or osteoporosis, where your bones are weak and fracture easily. Yoga helps to maintain and even increase bone density marginally because there are many weight-bearing exercises involved.
Get strong, feel strong
Throughout a Yoga flow, you’re lifting your own body weight and yes, you certainly can increase muscle tone, definition and even muscle size. But even better, Yoga creates overall functional strength because it integrates different muscles groups.
Yoga helps you balance
The reason why many older people are more prone to broken and fractured bones is that they lose their balance and fall. As soon as you begin practising Yoga you work on your balance.
The balance exercises within Yoga are not everyday movements, you build strength in tiny stabiliser muscles that are often neglected. You are also testing your balance in a more controlled and safe manner therefore you also practice falling better (we stumble out of dancers pose, pictured below, all the time and it’s great practice for real-life stumbles). You’re also constantly working on your core strength which again helps you maintain better balance.
The best part of Yoga, and our classes especially, is that we offer options for all levels. So if you’re beginning and struggling with the balance work, we’ll suggest to simply find a bench or chair to lean on.
Yoga maintains back and spine health
Joseph Pilates said it “You’re only as young as your spine flexible” and he was heavily inspired by Yoga movements. Both Yoga and Pilates are amazing practices to maintain your spine health, if you’ve ever had back pain (*all hands up) you know how important this is.
Back pain is debilitating pain and absolutely frustrating. Yoga helps this as it ensures we move, bend and stretch the spine in all ways, laterally, forward folds, twisting and backbends. Depending on your current back health, you work with your body where you are at. We both have previous back injuries so you won’t see us do crazy big backbends often. Again, Yoga helps build core strength which also maintains spinal health and prevents injury.
Decrease stiff and tight muscles with Yoga
As you age, you lose flexibility in muscles, connective tissue and fascia. This leads to general discomfort and less mobility. A regular Yoga practice stretches and moves your body to increase flexibility, mobility and comfort within the body. A daily Yoga session of just 10 minutes can increase your flexibility, it really is amazing.
Here’s a picture of Sally at the front, Stacey in the middle and Emma at the back. Sally went to high school with our Mumma and she’s also a MerryBody Member.
Helps balance hormones
Some studies have shown that a restorative yoga practice, like Yin and slow flow Yoga help to decrease the hot flashes that can come with hormonal changes like menopause. And really this is useful before the 60s and probably any age. We’ve spoken to many of our MerryBody members who use their Yin Yoga to help them through the symptoms that come with menopause. We also spoke to our friend Dr Rach during a Masterclass (this can be found inside MerryBody) about menopause and how exercise is a necessity to move through this time with more comfort.
Keep your mind firing, keep your mind sharp
When you are practising Yoga, you need to pay attention. You need to focus on your body, the positions, the transitions. You’re not just using your body but you’re also using your mind. You’re trying out new transitions, sequences and movements in every class, this itself creates new pathways in the brain. All this talk on mind and brains! Learn more about how Yoga positively impacts your brain over here!
Release stress and anxiety with Yoga
Stress is part of life at all ages, but one of the best parts of getting older is we (usually) become better and more experienced at dealing with these stresses. If you don’t feel this way, Yoga is an amazing tool to deal with life stresses.
During Yoga the levels of GABA in the brain (gamma-aminobutyric acid) increase. This chemical is linked to decreasing anxiety as well as elevating the mood. The feel-good hormones, dopamine and serotonin are also released. Cortisol (the stress hormone) also lowers AND it’s been noted that the size of the hippocampus can actually GROW when you practice Yoga. This part of the brain helps us deal with anxiety and stress.
Really the list goes on and on and the best way to learn more is to try Yoga! Whether you’re over 60, over 80, under 15 or 33, we know you’ll experience benefits from Yoga. The best part is you can experience our Yoga classes for free.
We have a 7-day trial available for our MerryBody Online Studio. Simply sign up here, choose a monthly or annual membership, you have 7 days to experience it all. If you fall in love stay and you’ll be charged on the 7th day. If it’s not for you simply email us to let us know before the 7 days, you can cancel anytime.
If you have any questions at all please get in touch. we are here to help!