If you are over 50 and looking for a way to stay healthy, yoga is a great option. Yoga has numerous health benefits that will keep your body feeling younger and healthier for years to come. Just make sure your doctor approves any new exercises you plan to add to your routine.
People who are 50+ are not too old for yoga and often benefit from it. Older individuals starting their yoga journey should check-in with their doctors, find a beginner’s class, and buy a good mat. They should also wear comfortable clothing, warm-up, and not push themselves past their limits.
This article will delve into all of the benefits you may receive by practicing yoga if you are over 50. Then, we will go over 12 tips for beginners over 50 to follow to help them get the most out of their practice.
Yes. Yoga has tons of benefits for people over 50. As long as you perform the poses correctly and aren’t pushing yourself outside your limits, yoga can have tremendous long-term benefits.
During your 50’s is the prime time for certain bone-related diseases to develop, such as osteoporosis. Various studies show that yoga can strengthen your bones, which helps slow down bone thinning and reduces your chances of developing osteoporosis. This effect is especially pronounced in postmenopausal women since they are more likely than other groups to develop weak bones.
When you do yoga, you lubricate your joints, which helps keep them happy and mobile. Therefore, you’ll be less likely to develop stiff joints and the diseases associated with this ailment, such as arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Having healthy joints is especially important for older individuals because it allows you to maintain your independence. If you don’t take care of your joints, you may lose your ability to do everyday activities like washing your hair, getting dressed, or brushing your teeth.
Balance is critical for people over 50. Without balance, you are more likely to fall, which can do some severe damage. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, falling is the number one cause of older individuals’ injuries.
If you want to avoid tumbling to the ground, yoga is here to help. The slow movements and strengthening exercises you perform in yoga can help you improve your balance, allowing you to move around without the fear of tumbling down.
Yoga helps you relax. Through meditation, breathing, and movement, yoga lowers your blood pressure, reduces your heart rate, and decreases muscle tension. So, practicing yoga reduces your body’s stress levels, making you feel less anxious.
Yoga also increases GABA levels in your brain, which is a chemical that reduces anxiety and calms fear. The heightened GABA levels will improve your mood, making you feel a greater sense of calm and well-being.
If you have high blood pressure, yoga may be an incredibly beneficial tool.
One study conducted in 2018 analyzed 3,517 overweight participants. These subjects either had high blood pressure already, or they were close to developing this condition. During the trial, the researchers put the participants in a yoga group or a control group who didn’t perform exercises. The results showed that the people in the yoga group experienced significant decreases in their blood pressure.
Additional studies have confirmed these results and have shown that yoga can reduce the number of medications people with high blood pressure have to take. So, if you suffer from hypertension, yoga may be a great way to improve your condition.
One study done in India has found some proof that yoga may help you maintain a healthy weight. The study recruited people with diabetes and asked them to walk or do yoga 3-6 days per week. The researchers found that people in the yoga group lost more weight and overall inches than those who walked.
Additionally, some yoga instructors believe that yoga helps people focus on their overall health and wellness, making them less likely to give in to instant gratification. If you are focused on your well-being, you are less likely to consume unhealthy things for immediate pleasure, which may be part of the reason why yogis can lose significant amounts of weight.
Telomeres are a part of human DNA that influences aging. As we get older, telomeres naturally fray and shorten. If people smoke, have a poor diet, or are overly stressed, this process can be expedited. When telomeres decay, it makes people look (and feel) older.
However, when people do yoga, the opposite happens. After six months of consistent practice, one study found that telomeres activity increased by 30%, and their decay rate slowed down significantly. So, yoga has the potential to make you look and feel younger by giving your telomeres an extra boost.
Before you head over to your first yoga class, it’s a good idea to get a physical done. Make sure to discuss your current health status, medical conditions, and any other pertinent information with your doctor to determine if yoga is safe for you.
It’s especially important to talk to your doctor if you have any of the following health conditions, as these may prevent you from performing yoga, or you may be required to take additional precautions:
- You have unmanageable blood pressure. Some backbends, inversions, and standing poses may need to be avoided if you have hypertension. You’ll need to discuss what is and isn’t safe with your physician in detail.
- You have severe osteoporosis. Osteoporosis makes your bones incredibly weak, so performing specific weight-bearing exercises may be unsafe.
- You have Glaucoma or other eye conditions. A recent study found that doing head-down yoga positions may increase the pressure in your eyes if you have glaucoma.
- You have a high risk of developing blood clots. Blood clots can be brought about by certain medical conditions or the types of medications you are taking. Yoga can help reduce blood clots since it encourages blood circulation, but it can also be harmful if you overexert yourself.
- You have a herniated disc in your spine. Some people with herniated discs shouldn’t practice yoga at all. Others will need to be cautious about rounding their spine during yoga, which may cause more harm than good.
Once you’ve discussed your health with your doctor and gotten her approval, you’ll be ready to visit your first yoga class.
After you’ve started practicing yoga, make sure to check-in with your body. If you begin to experience any joint problems, pain, illness, or other harmful side effects from yoga, consult your doctor.
Try to find a yoga class that matches your interests and your activity level. Ideally, you should start with a course that is designed for beginners. These classes will introduce you to different yoga poses and teach you how to perform each pose correctly. Beginner classes also have support objects such as straps for stretching, pillows for body support, and blocks to rest your hands or feet on, which will help you get the most out of each pose.
If you’d like to be in a class among your peers, see if there are any 50+ yoga classes in the area. These classes are a great option since you’ll practice with other people of a similar age. Also, your instructor will likely be knowledgeable about particular challenges older individuals face who are trying out yoga for the first time, so they’ll be able to provide you with the support you need.
Other than the experience level, classes also differ in the types of yoga they offer. Below we will go over some of the primary forms of yoga and the differences between them:
- Yin and Hatha yoga are slow-paced and very relaxing. You’ll hold poses for a significant amount of time during the class and focus on your breathing. If you want to practice yoga to de-stress and find calm, try either of these types.
- Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga classes are more vigorous. They are great for people trying to lose a little weight or simply want a more energetic style. These classes tend to be more challenging and fast-paced. So, if you want to get your blood pumping, try out one of these types of yoga.
While many yoga studios provide their yogis with mats, it may be a good idea to invest in one of your own.
When you get your mat, you can choose its thickness. Typically, mats are about ¼” thick (0.64 cm). However, they can be as thin as 0.06 inch (0.16 cm) or as thick as 0.50 inch (1.27 cm), depending on your preferences. Many people over 50 prefer lush mats because they are more comfortable for the knees and hips. However, you should always get a mat that is the right thickness for you.
Standards mats are made from PVC. However, there are also jute or rubber mats that are more environmentally friendly. Cotton mats are also a great option; however, they tend to be more expensive than mats made with other materials.
If you would like to read more about yoga mats, take a look here.
Listed below are four high-quality mats that are ideal for older yogis:
This comfortable 0.19 inch (0.47 cm) mat will provide you with all the joint protection and support you need. Although it is denser than some mats, its thickness does not compromise its stability. You’ll be able to practice on this mat with comfort and ease.
The surface of the Manduka Prolite Mat is sweat resistant, which prevents wetness from seeping into its surface. It also has an excellent grip, so you’ll never have to worry about slipping off your mat.
This mat is made with environmentally friendly materials in an emissions-free shop, so buying this mat will help you and the environment.
If you are looking for a thick mat, the Crown Sporting Goods Extra Thick Mat may be a perfect choice. This dense product is 0.63 inches (1.60 cm) thick, providing you with optimal cushioning for your knees, hips, and wrists.
Its rigid surface helps prevent slipping, so you’re less likely to injure yourself. Its body was also designed to capture excess moisture, so you won’t have to worry about slipping on your sweat.
The Gaiam Yoga Mat is functional and fashionable. It comes in 27 stylish patterns that will make you excited to get out your mat.
This mat is lightweight yet thick, providing you with the extra cushioning you need without the added weight. It also features a non-slip surface with an excellent grip, so you’ll feel confident and balanced during your practice.
It’s made with non-toxic, environmentally friendly materials, which is healthier for you and the planet.
When you buy a Gaiam Yoga Mat, you’ll receive a free downloadable yoga workout, so you can start practicing some poses from the comfort of your home.
Since you’re a beginner, you may not want to spend an arm and a leg on your new mat. If you are looking for a budget-friendly option, check out the AmazonBasics Thick Yoga Mat. This durable foam mat provides you with lots of cushioning for your joints. The body has a textured surface that will give you a lot of traction, so you’ll stay firmly planted on your mat.
While this mat isn’t as cute or fancy as some of the others on our list, its durability and reliability make it a solid choice.
There’s nothing worse than wearing uncomfortable clothing during yoga. Instead of focusing on your breathing or your movements, you’ll end up worrying about your too-tight pants or annoying shirt the entire time.
To avoid this, wear comfortable clothing for yoga. Avoid wearing shirts that are overly loose or that have dangly ties since these can get in your way. For pants, it’s best to wear stretchy loungewear or leggings that allow you to move freely.
Yoga clothes are made from a variety of materials. You can find great yoga outfits that are composed of cotton, linen, and even bamboo. Regardless of the material, make sure your clothing is breathable to keep you cool and comfortable throughout your practice.
It’s a good idea to warm-up before yoga to get your blood flowing and increase the oxygen levels in your body. Doing a quick warm-up will also get your large muscle groups working so that they are ready to go for your yoga session.
Here are four great warm-up exercises you should perform before every yoga class:
- Stretch out your shoulders. Simply push your arms behind you to draw your shoulder blades together.
- Perform the cat-cow stretch. To do this, go on all fours. Start by rounding your spine downwards towards the floor, like a cow. Breathe in and look up towards the ceiling if your neck allows. Then, slowly arch your spine, like a cat. Look downwards as you exhale and release your breath. Repeat this as many times as you’d like.
- Do a gentle spinal twist. Begin in a seated position with your legs crossed. Put your left arm on your right knee and turn your body to gaze over your right shoulder. Stay here for 10-15 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Be gentle. Don’t force your body into a deep twist.
- Stretch your legs and hips with the eye of the needle pose. To do this, lay on your back with your knees bent. Put your right ankle on top of your left knee. You should feel a nice stretch in your legs, hips, and glutes. If you have tight hips, leave your left foot firmly planted on the floor. For a deeper stretch, pull your left knee in towards your body. Perform this stretch for 15-20 seconds, then switch to the other side.
If you feel pain at any time during your practice, stop what you are doing. Pain is your body’s way of signaling that you are in distress. Whenever you perform painful poses, you are doing yourself more harm than good. So, instead of doing something that hurts you, go into the child’s pose or another stretch while the rest of the class is doing the pose(s) that you find painful.
If you have any known health problems, such as bad knees, let your instructor know before class. They can provide you with some substitute poses to try out while the rest of the class performs poses that may cause you pain. These poses usually stretch the same muscles and give you the same benefits without making you go “ouch”.
Sometimes you may feel embarrassed to do a different pose than the rest of the class. However, remember, there is no judgment in yoga, and everyone’s practice is their own. So don’t do things that may cause you harm so that you can stay with the class. Yoga is all about your journey.
Listed below are some poses you should avoid if you have specific health problems:
- If you have ankle or knee issues, you should avoid child’s pose.
- If you have wrist problems, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, don’t do downward facing dog.
- Avoid doing any seated twists if you have any back injuries.
- Bridge pose is not advisable if you have problems with your neck.
Every yoga newbie should heed this advice, even if they are under 50. The advice being, take your time to move in every pose. If you move too quickly, you may pull a muscle or hurt yourself.
Once you’re in the pose, make sure you are doing it correctly. Adjust your body to match the instructor and ask for help if needed. Do not force yourself into poses that don’t feel right. Always move slowly and do not surpass your physical limitations.
Remember, you are doing yoga because it is beneficial for your body. However, if you are forcing yourself into poses, you’re probably doing more harm than good. So, always take your time, ask for help, and only do what feels right.
To help you keep your balance, look at un-moving objects in front of you. Some good options are the wall, floor, or ceiling. Pick a spot that is a comfortable distance away from your body. Keep looking at that spot the entire time you are balancing to help you keep your center of gravity stable.
If you are still struggling to remain balanced with this trick, hold onto a chair or the wall. Continue to look at a particular spot in space, as this will further improve your balance. Don’t worry; you’ll still receive the benefits of balance poses even if you are holding on to something.
Breathing is an essential aspect of yoga that sets it apart from other forms of exercise. Focusing on your breath will enhance your practice by helping you move deeper into each pose. Breathing deeply also has a beneficial impact on your body. It can help improve digestion, blood circulation, and even boost your immune system.
To learn more about breathing in yoga, check out this clip by yoga expert Brett Larkin. In the video, she goes over how to inhale and exhale for maximum relaxation. She also demonstrates how to take full breaths with your naval instead of shallow breaths that stay within your upper body:
If you are new to yoga, there are likely some poses you’ll find challenging. Yoga uses a lot of your muscle groups, some of which may not be very strong. During these difficult poses, don’t be afraid to take a break. If you feel lightheaded or overly exerted, move out of the pose and go into child’s pose or another comfortable position. Take some deep, calming breaths and return to your practice when you feel ready to do so.
Don’t be afraid of not keeping up with the teacher or falling behind the class. Yoga is a personal journey, so you shouldn’t push yourself beyond your limits. Focus on doing what you can and accepting what you can’t. Never feel bad about taking a break when you need to. It’s not worth harming yourself just to keep up with the person next to you. Remember, yoga isn’t a competition.
If you want to receive all of the fantastic health benefits yoga can provide, you have to be consistent. Try to do yoga at least one time per week for an hour or two. If you are consistent, your body will continue to get stronger, and you’ll get better at performing the poses. The more you practice, the greater the mental and physical benefits.
Kula Yoga has provided us with four ways you can help yourself remain consistent:
- Don’t focus on the outcome. Try not to focus on the results you hope to obtain. Instead, be proud of your progress and all of the beautiful things your body can accomplish. If you put yourself down and dwell on the things you can’t do, you won’t be as excited to hit your mat each week. So, having the right intentions is essential for consistency.
- Enjoy what you’re doing. Make sure you like the class you are in and the yoga you are practicing each week. If you don’t like your instructor or find the course too slow or too fast, try something different. You won’t keep doing something that you don’t find enjoyable.
- Make your health a priority. It’s easy in our busy lives to focus on everything other than our health and wellness. However, if you don’t make yourself a priority, you’ll likely suffer some severe health consequences in the near future. So, dedicate some time to yourself each week to go to your mat. Make this time non-negotiable. Your body will thank you.
- Put in on your schedule. To help make yoga a regular part of your life, add it to your calendar. By physically putting it on your “to-do “ list, you’ll be less likely to skip out on it.
Yoga has many health benefits for people over 50. As long as your doctor says it’s safe, you should give it a try. To start, find a beginner’s class that does your preferred style of yoga. Before you go to class, get some comfortable clothing and a thick mat.
Once you’re in class, make sure to warm-up, take your time getting into each pose, and take a break when needed. Try to remain focused on your breathing and stare at motionless objects to help with your balance. Yoga may be challenging at first, but it’ll pay off to remain consistent.
- WikiHow: How to Begin Practicing Yoga After 50
- Woman & Home: How to get into yoga – whatever your age, size, or fitness levels
- VeryWellFit: 10 Poses to Help You Warm Up for Yoga
- Yoga Outlet: How to Do Cat-Cow Pose in Yoga
- AARP: Yoga Poses for Your 50s, 60s, and 70s — and Beyond
- Women’s Health: 6 Best Thick Yoga Mats For Those That Need A Lil Extra Support
- YouTube: Brett Larkin Yoga: Are You Doing It Right? How to Breathe in Yoga as a Total Beginner | Test Your Yogic Breathing
- Kula Yoga: WHY CONSISTENCY IS KEY FOR YOUR YOGA PRACTICE
- Huff Post: What Women Need To Know About Yoga After 50
- Healthline: Yoga for Weight Loss
- Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Yoga as Antihypertensive Lifestyle Therapy: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
- Mayo Clinic: Yoga: Fight stress and find serenity
- Glaucoma Australia: Yoga Positions and Glaucoma
- Yoga International: Yoga and Osteoporosis: The Do’s and Don’ts
- Healthline: Yoga for High Blood Pressure
- North American Thrombosis Forum: A Heart-Healthy Tip: How to Safely Start an Exercise Routine After A DVT or PE
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