Yoga is a great callisthenic exercise for everyone. By performing yoga you can improve your mental and physical health, have fun, meet new people, and generally better your life. What’s more, yoga’s extreme popularity means that it’s more accessible than ever, with many gyms offering a wide variety of cheap yoga classes for people of all levels of ability. This makes it a great exercise for people over fifty.
Types of Yoga
There are countless varieties of yoga. Some focus on the meditation aspects, others help to build physical strength, others develop endurance, others increase flexibility, and yet others help in losing weight. All yoga will help you to de-stress, get stronger, more flexible, lose weight, and increase endurance of course. But different types of yoga make different goals a priority. Today we will explore how these types of yoga will benefit you.
Hatha Yoga is the best place for beginners. The class will start off at a much slower place and go through the basics with you. You will be allowed to take your time to get into poses, and hold them as long as you are comfortable. The instructors don’t expect you to know much at all, and they will go through the basics nearly every class. You will have plenty of opportunity to socialize with other beginner yogis and with the instructor. This relaxed approach is also great for people with physical ailments or with deteriorating memory for that reason, so you might find that even after a few months or years you want to stay with your class.
Kundalini Yoga focuses strongly on the meditation aspects of yoga. If your bigger concerns are feeling stressed and worrying about everyday matters, this type of yoga, combining its exercise with chanting, breath work, and meditation, helps you to work through your thoughts and emotions, leaving you refreshed.
If you want to build strength and endurance, try out Vinyasa Yoga. Vinyasa is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re already confident with your yoga, or if you practice aerobic activities regularly, you might find it’s more your style. You take challenging poses that change quickly, building your muscles and working up a sweat. Sometimes this is done to the tune of pumping gym music. This type of yoga is enjoyed by Indian Bodybuilders, so you know what you’re getting into.
Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga are more for people looking for a challenge, but also great for weight loss. By combining yoga with a hot, steamy room, they keep you sweating and working until the very end. The sessions are usually quite long, too. If your health isn’t great, these types of yoga might be far too much for you, but if you’re generally very fit they might be just the challenge you need. Bikram focuses on the same routine each lesson, making it simpler, but Hot Yoga is more fun for people who don’t like the constraints of routine.
If you’re looking to build up your flexibility, Yin Yoga is the right choice for you. In Yin Yoga poses are held for several minutes at a time, encouraging your tendons to stretch, building up their elasticity. If you suffer from joint problems, this yoga style may not be right for you. But if your joints are strong and you need to get more flexible, then it might be perfect. Some Yin Yoga classes focus on meditation, whilst others allow chatting, so feel free to check which type yours is!
For people with injuries, Iyengar Yoga is especially forgiving. In Iyengar Yoga you are encouraged to learn about your body and treat it gently and carefully. You are given a wide range of props, so there is little risk of falling, or of damaging an old injury. You hold each pose for a while, but they’re so gentle it will not be much of a problem. Be sure to talk to your doctor about it first, but if you have physical ailments, this might be the yoga for you.
And that is our selection of yoga types for people over the age of fifty. As you can see, there is a rich variety of yoga options, catering to all sorts of needs. So whether you’re a gym rat or a beginner, it is worth it to give yoga a go. Now let’s move into another good form of exercise for older adults – Pilates.
Pilates for over 50s
Pilates is one of the biggest fitness trends of the past few decades. It is a callisthenic physical fitness regime, much like yoga is. Although initial claims described Pilates as a way of fighting numerous physical ailments and alleviating pain, the truth is that it is useful, but not magical. Pilates will help you to build up muscle tone, improve joint flexibility, and develop a better sense of balance. All of these benefits are actually great for people over the age of fifty, when those three areas begin to suffer naturally. A healthy Pilates routine could help you stay healthy and active for longer.
Because you are regularly testing your strength, flexibility, and balance when doing Pilates, we strongly recommend that you start out with a course, or a personal trainer. Pilates in and of itself isn’t dangerous, but it can be difficult to master, and some of the poses may prove challenging to someone who is not in good physical shape or who has a physical ailment. An instructor ought to be able to present you with some safe and beneficial poses, and to help you develop your strength, balance, and flexibility in a way that suits your body.
Pilates is a great beginner exercise in that it requires little physical preparation, and not much financial investment either. You don’t need to be very fit, and all you need to invest in at first is a few courses and some loose-fitting, but not baggy, exercise clothes.
Pilates professionals have strong recommendations as to Pilates for people over the age of fifty. On the one hand, three moves are particularly recommended. The Kneeling Rear Leg Raise is considered one of the best for developing balance. You start out very secure, with your weight evenly balanced between your elbows and knees, and then stretch one leg out backwards slowly. You put that leg back down and do the movement again with the other leg. As all your weight is evenly supported, you are near the ground, and you are moving slowly and steadily, this exercise is really great for core strength and balance development in absolute beginners. It helps to develop the muscles around your hips and legs, improving balance. And it is very safe!
Another recommended exercise for older people is Side Circles. Laying on your side, extend your leg towards the ceiling. Do not lift your bum off the ground, or you will fold your spine, which is not advised for people over fifty practicing Pilates. Move your leg clockwise and counter clockwise in small circles. Swap sides so you’ve done it with both legs. This exercise improves hip mobility, leg strength, and balance. As you are flat on the ground, it is perfectly safe from falling, and extremely unlikely to cause injury.
Finally, The Mermaid is also strongly recommended for improving balance and strength in older Pilates beginners. You start sitting on the mat with both legs folded to one side, say to your left. Your right hand rests on the floor, giving your body full support. You stretch your left arm up high, extending your spine, and stretch sideways. Do the movement gently and don’t push yourself too far. Slowly move back into the initial position. Your instructor may be able to teach you an alternative if your knees aren’t comfortable with the position. This exercise helps strengthen your back and improves your balance. It is also very safe as you are near the ground and your weight is supported.
On the other hand, Pilates instructors generally advise against spinal flexion Pilates exercises for people over the age of fifty, and completely agree that anyone with pre-existing spinal problems ought not to engage in spinal flexion Pilates. This is because half of all women and a large number of men over fifty have low bone density, which means that if we put pressure on the spine, there is risk of a fracture. Many people assume that all unweighted exercise is perfectly safe for people with frail bones and joints, but the reality is that any time you put pressure on a bone, even if it’s just your own body weight, you are challenging it. Spinal flexion is where you bend yourself at the back, folding your spine. Stretching your spine is absolutely fine: this doesn’t present a risk to your bones.
Use the three moves in yoga and the information in the Pilates section of this article to stay in the best shape that you can when over the age of 50.