I am so grateful to have been and continue to be inspired by all the wonderful teachers, practitioners and students who practice yoga at all ages!
One of the first people to introduce me to the art of yoga was an 80 year-old man named Kinkar. I was a teenager at the time. He was a practicing yogi who had traveled to India several times and was able to hold a headstand for what seemed to me an eternity. He had such a peaceful, relaxed, fun and vibrant personality. It was always a great pleasure to be in his presence. I lost track of Kinkar over the years but his memory and inspiration live with me to this day. He was practicing yoga long before it was fashionable and something in me registered "Hey, look at him practicing headstands at 80, I think he may be on to something". I didn't know what that something was at the time but I certainly do now!
A few years ago I bought a book called 'Awakening The Spine'. It had such a beautiful cover and title. I was immediately drawn to it, not knowing that it was written by well know yoga teacher Vanda Scaravelli, who wrote it when she was 83 years old. It is a yoga classic now. Scaravelli studied with yoga luminaries and masters and continued to teach yoga until her death at 91. It is because of these inspirational teachers and practitioners who continue to practice and teach yoga well into their 80's, and 90's, that I felt inspired to write this blog. I would like in turn, to inspire and encourage everyone to practice yoga; no matter what age they are chronologically.
It is never too late to begin a yoga practice. My student Madison began studying yoga at 62, being attracted to the energy of the people she met who practiced. She felt they had something that she too was looking for. She continues to practice with a passion and energy that inspires me each time we share class together. Some of my other students have begun to practice yoga in their late 60's and even in their 70's and 80's. I am always so blown away by their enthusiasm, flexibility, strength and commitment. My dad, who I am very proud of, continues to practice yoga and he is 86 years young!
It is always important to be careful practicing yoga when there is a history of arthritis, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, surgery or any other health issues. As with any physical activity it is best to consult with your doctor and to work with an experienced teacher. It is also important to practice at a level and pace that is comfortable and right for you.
Yoga is for anyone at any age. There are so many different styles, methods and techniques to choose from. At different points in your life you may choose to favor one over the other. Even if you have limited mobility you can still practice yoga. You can practice pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation and even yoga seated in a chair.
In yoga it is believed that a person's age is measured by the flexibility of their spine. The venous supple to the spinal disks begin to diminish as we age which is why it is so important to stay active. By bending and stretching during our yoga practice we revitalize major glands and organs with fresh blood. Yoga also strengthens not only muscles but also bones, preventing Osteoporosis.
There are so many reasons to remain active as we age. Lack of physical exercise leads to loss of flexibility, Osteoporosis, weakening of muscles, back pain, insomnia, breathing problems, and poor circulation just to name a few. One of the best reasons to practice yoga as we age is not only to strengthen our muscles and bones but also, to practice balancing. Complications arising from falls lead to immobility and other serious health problems. Most of my students over the age of 70 have reported a renewed confidence just walking down the street. They feel stronger and more balanced and therefore have less fear of falling.
Yoga helps increase mobility, build confidence, boost energy and also reduce the incidence of many health concerns. I hope that this blog with encourage you to start practicing yoga at any age!!
Published On: March 23, 2011