If you are here, you want to start practicing yoga, but chances are you may still feel hesitant to do it. Completely understandable! Here in the West, we see pictures of yogis who are fit and young all the time. And this makes people believe that that is how you need to look to practice yoga. But if you are looking for beginners over 50, then this article will show you how you can start practicing.
If you hear yourself say, “I don’t think I can do that. Maybe yoga isn’t for me”, then throw that belief out the window. Yoga is an inclusive practice that welcomes everybody from any age, body size, and shape. It is the perfect practice to start if you are in your 50s or over!
Here are some of the top benefits you will receive by practicing yoga:
- Relaxes and strengthens your muscles
- Improves your balance
- Releases muscle tensions and relieves aches caused by stress or injuries
- Reduces heart rate and blood pressure
- Improves quality of sleep
- Relieves anxiety and depression
- Reduces stress
- Improves clarity, concentration, and focus
- Calms the mind
- Increases body awareness
- Releases stagnant energy
- Brings balance and harmony to your energy centers
- Grows and strengthens your connection to the Divine
- Increases ability to perceive Oneness/Unity
- Allows you to be present and surrender
- Creates receptivity for guidance
How to Start Practicing Yoga as a Beginner Over 50
Yoga is a life-long journey that everybody does at their own pace. So, if you are ready to bring balance and harmony into your life, here are some tips to help you on this journey:
1. Make sure your doctor gives you the “OK”
Anyone can practice yoga, but there are differences in our bodies and health to take into consideration. For this reason, being mindful and meeting the body where it is, is crucial. We want to enjoy the experience and avoid any injuries that may prevent us from showing up to our mat.
Make time to go to your doctor. If possible, get a complete physical, and let your doctor know that you want to start practicing yoga. Chances are they will tell you to go for it! Your doctor will let you know what things to be aware of as you practice so you can be safe.
2. Welcome modifications
There is a misconception that lingers in our current society about the practice of yoga. Many people interested in yoga tend to believe that to get all the benefits, they need to do the postures the way they see a seasoned yogi do. That could not be farthest away from the truth! Yoga is about presence, not about form.
Presence is meeting yourself where you are today, here and now. What matters is how you breathe and the awareness that the practice ignites within you.
A modification will make the posture adapt to you and your needs, not the other way around. It will help to keep integrity in your body and the length of your spine so you can breathe freely and find presence.
As you practice, be loving, respectful, and patient with your body, and you will see how it begins to positively respond to you.
3. Know that there are different styles of yoga
Some yoga styles are very active. Others are soothing and relaxing. It depends on what you are looking for and on what resonates the most with you. If you have been somewhat active or are physically active, a good style of yoga to start with can be Hatha Yoga. It is a physical practice that can be considered gentle, but it also encourages strength and effort.
If you are not currently active or you have some physical condition that at the moment inhibits your range of motion, then Chair Yoga is the perfect option for you. It is still Hatha Yoga, but you will be using a chair as a wall and support for all the postures. The use of the chair will make it a gentle practice for you and your joints, and you will feel safe and supported.
Other styles of yoga that are quite relaxing and gentle and do wonders for the joints and connective tissues are Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga.
Try different styles with a beginner class and feel into them to find the best one for you.
4. Find the class that fits you
Let’s start with where you are right now as a beginner. Go online, read your community board, or ask friends, and find a beginner class in the style of yoga that is currently calling on you.
Know that most classes are not marketed as “Yoga for Beginners”, so keep your eye out for ones that are titled “Yoga over 50”, “Senior Yoga”, “Gentle Yoga” as well.
Good luck in your search!
5. Find a good yoga teacher
Get to class at least 10 minutes early. Smile, say hello to people, and use this time to approach your yoga teacher. Let him/her know of any injuries or health conditions that he/she may need to be aware of. Your yoga teacher will gladly offer you suggestions and modifications to keep your body safe and honor where you are.
At the beginning of the class, the yoga teacher will ask about injuries openly to the class, but if you prefer to let him/her know before class, go ahead! It can be a great time to get to know your yoga teacher and feel the vibe he/she will infuse into the classes.
6. Warm-up the body in the morning
People often think that once we come back to consciousness in the morning, the body is ready to go. But the body also needs time to wake up.
After having your body in a supine position, resting for hours, some muscles get tight by the lack of movement. And as we get older, we may suffer from stiff joints that can be especially bad in the mornings when we get out of bed.
So each morning, make it a loving intention for yourself and your body to massage your muscles. You can do a few simple stretches or a short yoga sequence in your bed to release some of that stiffness and bring lubrication to the joints. You will notice how this will help you carry yourself in your body much better during the day.
7. Own a good mat and get props
One of those things that can make your yoga experience one that you enjoy is your mat. Make sure that you get an anti-slippery mat. If you sweat, it will have a good grip, and regardless of the type of floor, it won’t slip. This is not only going to make your practice more comfortable, but it is also going to help keep you safe.
Also, get at least two blocks that you bring to class to have more options for modifications. As you continue to practice, you will find a use for other props such as cushions, straps, or bolster, to enhance your practice.
8. Appropriate clothing
Jeans or shorts are the worst clothing options for yoga because the fabric does not breathe or stretch. It limits your range of motion. Instead, use clothing that makes you feel good and relaxed and allows you to breathe and move freely.
There is a variety of yoga pants of all kinds out there. A yoga or stretch pant with a tank top or a fit-size shirt can do the trick for the ladies. If you are a man, wear a fit-size (or slightly loose) shirt and knee-height pants that allow you to move and stretch.
As you can see, being over 50 is not a limit. You can also benefit from yoga, and it does not have to be a difficult journey to start! Yoga helps the body, the mind, and the spirit be in balance and good health, so it benefits us all regardless of age.
Do not let misconceptions or limiting beliefs keep you from doing the things you desire. If your heart desires to integrate yoga to bring balance and growth into your life, the time to do it is now. It is never too late to try things that will enrich and improve the quality of your life!
Take your time to explore, try different classes and styles, and find the practice that speaks the most to you.
This post was written by our yoga expert, Rebeca, and edited by Gail.