Yoga in your masters’ years

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How yoga can help keep you young and active at any age.

If you are an active person in your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s or beyond, maybe it’s time you took up yoga.

As yoga has become more mainstream, there has been a lot of marketing that can appear skewed to a certain demographic. One could be excused for thinking that yoga is the realm of young (20-something) fit, flexible, good-looking, white women.

It’s understandable that some people wouldn’t entertain the idea of trying yoga – because they don’t see it as something relevant or accessible to them. Or think they need to be flexible (and young) to do yoga. But that makes about as much sense as thinking you can’t take up golf because you can’t play a round under-par.

The fact is that yoga is for anybody, and any  body. Young, old, active and agile, or slow and sedentary. The one thing that yoga should have in common for everyone is that it helps you maintain and improve on your general health and wellbeing.

If you are involved in sports, from a recreational to an elite level, yoga can help maintain balance in your body, improving strength, flexibility, joint mobility, spinal health, mental focus and breath awareness,
as well as reducing the chance of injury.

It’s never too late to start yoga and benefit from it. In fact as we age, it becomes even more important that we look after ourselves a bit better, to counter some of the realities of ageing.

‘Use it or lose it’

The phrase ‘use it or lose it’ is an oldie but a goodie (just like a lot of us). And it’s so true! Once you stop using your body fully (including your breath) your functionality will decline. It happens slowly, often at an imperceptible rate – but the cumulative effects are significant.

As we move less and as we age, the body generally becomes less hydrated and supple. Joints become stiffer and our range of motion declines. Muscle mass, strength and bone density decrease, our sense of balance wavers and reaction times slow. Our risk of injury rises. Overall sports performance gradually decreases, and our recovery is not a good as it used to be.

Yoga is a wonderful antidote for many of these natural ageing processes, and it can certainly help keep you healthy and active in your sport for longer.

Yoga makes you use your whole body in a balanced and holistic way. Your joints will get lubricated, tight spots will be stretched and your weak areas will strengthen. Core strength and joint stability improve. Yoga provides excellent maintenance for your spine and posture, and promotes better breathing, mental focus, balance and awareness.

What does yoga for 40-plus look like?

The answer to this will be a very individual question. After all, what does life in general look like for those of us 40-plus? There is of course a huge spectrum. Fortunately, yoga changes and grows with you, and adapts to reflect your lifestyle and stage of life.

If you are keen to keep up your sport well into your ‘masters’ years, yoga may be the just the discipline to add to your training mix. Remember – doing yoga doesn’t mean you have to be bendy, or young. You just need to care about looking after your body in a mindful way, and approach it gently – one breath at a time.

Yoga is not a competitive sport. It’s something you do at your own level for your own personal benefit. And like many things in life, the benefit you get out of practising yoga is a direct reflection of the effort and commitment you put in – and that can be limitless.

If you are looking to start yoga, check out your options for a local class that matches your needs. If you’re not sure what that is, just approach an experienced teacher for advice.

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