Yoga teachers like to talk. Not all but some of them tend to go on and on about their rent, boyfriends, etc....happy, I suspect, to have a captive audience. The thing is, almost all of them are under 40, and when they talk about the many benefits of yoga, none of the ones I've taken classes with are talking from the perspective of being over 50. Well, I'm no yoga teacher but I've practiced for a decade now, and I am, ahem, over 50, so allow me to tell those of you my age and older why I think yoga is the best exercise as you age:
1. Balance. In yoga class, you'll wind up doing a lot of balancing postures. "Dancer" happens to be my favorite but "tree" is right up there with it. In both of them, the trick is to relax into the balance -- a lesson for life and a lesson as you age. Forcing things will not work and you'll likely be so tense that you'll never stand on that one foot. Let's face it: A lot of older Americans have trouble with balance. Those ubiquitous walkers are there for a reason. My suspicion is, the more you balance now, the better off you'll be later.
2. Lubrication. I know what you're thinking, but not that. This is my term for one of the benefits of yoga. I often say after a yoga class that my joints feel lubricated, and it's true. I guess it's like the tin man must have felt after he got his hit of oil. Those young yoga teachers -- by dint of age and profession -- may never know what it's like to spend decades sitting in an office chair. I do, and let me tell you, old bodies need to move around to loosen up and to oil those joints. Yoga, my friends, is the next best thing to a squirt of that oil.
3. Strength. Muscle mass declines as you age. It's a proven fact. But rather than go to a gym and lift weights, why not work on many of the muscles in your body? Yoga does just that. My triceps have gotten bigger and bigger, not from free weights but from doing chaturangas over and over again. It's the same for all those others muscles. You'll feel the burn in your quads and elsewhere. Believe me.
4. Peace of mind. I think some of this comes with age anyway, but why not put down that damned smartphone for 90 minutes and get on the mat. You'll live much longer, I hope.
Do you have your own reasons for practicing yoga? Tell us in the comments!