Have you ever taken a yoga class? Yoga is my “fountain of youth.” I’ve been practicing yoga for 35 years and it’s given me the flexibility to play with my grandchildren for the past 19 years. Yoga might seem like a trendy type of exercise for young people, but it’s a remarkably effective workout for women over 60 and we grandmas can truly benefit.
Of all the poses or asanas, my favorite pose is “tree.” Tree pose requires balance, flexibility, strength, and concentration. I start my morning with a tree pose and hold it for one minute on each leg. It’s much like a mini-meditation that helps me get centered for the day.
Yoga’s origins can be traced to northern India over 5,000 years ago. Starting in the early 1960s, Richard Hittleman and Lilias Folan popularized yoga with their television programs showing practical yoga poses.
I took my first class in 1988 and since then it’s grown in popularity every year. Besides the traditional classes which focus on holding poses, there are flow classes, hot classes, power classes, goat classes, and many more varieties.
Many people are intimidated by yoga because they think they aren’t flexible enough. You don’t have to be flexible to start but you will definitely become flexible when you begin doing the poses. Every pose can be adapted to your body’s abilities and my teachers always give options for adapting poses if you have limitations.
Yoga Benefits for Grandmas
Decreases aches and pains: Yoga can decrease inflammation by lowering stress levels through focused breathing.
Minimizes hypertension: Yoga can lower your blood pressure reducing your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke through the three basic tenants of yoga: posture, meditation, and breathing.
Strengthens bones: As a weight-bearing activity, yoga can combat osteoporosis and relieve pain.
Reduces anxiety: One of the greatest benefits of yoga — at any age — is the stress relief that comes along with regular practice. Not only does yoga teach you how to slow your breathing and use your breath to help get you through difficult poses, but it also induces a relaxation response at the end of each class. The process is called savasana, and it slows your heart rate, relaxes your muscles, eases your breathing, and lowers your blood pressure so that you arise from this suspended state feeling mellow and calm.
The best part of yoga is that you don’t need a gym to do it. Once you learn the poses, you can practice them at home, on vacation, inside or outside, day or night. You can even do yoga in a chair. Just make sure you talk to your doctor before you start. Not everyone can do inverted poses with the head in a lowered position. You’ll need to adapt poses to your individual needs.
As you practice yoga and become mindful of not just your body, but also of your thoughts and emotions, you will become more connected to and mindful of your environment, your community, and the world around you. Yoga will be the best gift you can give yourself and your grandchildren.