Yoga Practice

7 Important Health Benefits of Yoga for People Over 50

I have received many emails or had conversations with potential yoga clients that started out along the lines of, “I’m (insert age that the person views as old). And I am a yoga beginner.” If we were speaking in person, they would often pause to wait for my gasp.

When it never came, I would let them know that some of my friends teach beginners in their 90s. There is no “you are too old” age for yoga, but I also understand the reticence: Yoga models skew to the 30s, but are mostly younger. Although yoga is starting to have different shapes, sizes and ages, popular media still seems to display one age and one body type.

Don’t listen to any of it. If you are over 50 (or over 90), it is the perfect time to start a yoga practice. Now. In fact, the Yoga Sutras, a text with 196 aphorisms compiled around 400 CE begins, “Now, the teachings of yoga.” The word “now” is so imperative. There is no sense of regret, no “Why didn’t I start sooner?” Now is the time you practice. Now is the perfect time.

In fact, if you find yourself in some age you might classify as chronologically enriched, you have even more reason to practice. Here are some of the many benefits, right now:

1) Your balance will improve. Balance is all good and well when you are 20 and can show off your arm balance skills as your party trick. However, yoga works your proprioception, or your sense of your body in space. Without regular attention, this can diminish with age, but it doesn’t have to. With much of proprioception in your ankles, standing yoga poses ensure that you maintain your sense of balance. This may help you to walk gracefully for years to come.

2) Yoga strengthens bones. Bones are not really something young people think about, yet men and women have their maximum bone density at the age of 30. After that, it is all about maintenance, and some studies have suggested that yoga can help with gaining bone in the spine and the hip. Strength building yoga is an important part of this equation.

3) Your memory will stay sharp. No one wants to become the person who can’t remember where their keys are on a regular basis. Yoga provides added benefits in visual-spatial memory, with one study claiming that it fared better than crossword puzzles. Consider it fitness for your brain.

4) Yoga can protect your joints. As with any exercise, it can also harm your joints, so moderation and a qualified teacher are key. Keeping the fluidity of your joints may feel like a bonus when you are young, but as you get older you will notice it more palpably, especially in the morning. Not only will yoga boost the synovial fluid to your joints, but it will also train surrounding tiny muscles to help stabilize the load.

5) Yoga can provide weight loss benefits. Yoga has a host of benefits, such as normalizing digestion, boosting the metabolism and toning muscles. All of these things can help with weight loss and yoga’s mindful training may help you to recognize when you are eating straight out of the bag of chips. Midlife weight gain has causes, and by dealing with some of them head-on you will be less likely to carry excess weight.

6) Yoga can aid with menopausal discomfort. Regular yoga practice is not going to cure all that ails you, but according to some studies, yoga may relieve some symptoms of menopause, including fewer hot flashes. (I think most women would sign up at the words “fewer hot flashes.”)

7) Yoga can moderate chronic pain. Chronic pain does become more common as we age, but this does not mean you are doomed to suffer. A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that for people with chronic lower back pain, yoga increased mobility more than standard medical care. The less pain you are in, the more you will be likely to move. And the more you move, the less pain you are likely to be in. You see where I am going with this.

As much as popular culture glorifies youth, yoga is for everyone—really and truly. Yoga can be the way to an awakened heart, as alive today as it was thirty years ago.

What’s the best health benefit you receive from your yoga practice? Any age, any level! Let us know in the comments.

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9 Comments

  1. Amanda

    Amanda

    September 10, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Yes! The right time to start is always “now.” I’m generally healthy but I know by the practice I’m reaping all the benefits you mentioned above and more. Yoga is what reminds me to breathe and stay calm about decision-making. It keeps my spine happy even though much of my day is spent working on the computer. It teaches me more about body awareness every day, which keeps me tuned in to those tiny, “hmm, that’s not quite right” feelings in my body. Great post! Thanks for writing.

  2. Avatar

    Maria Sam

    September 11, 2016 at 2:29 am

    Hello Sebastian,
    very informative post you’ve written. However yoga is not very helpful to our physical health but also it has a huge benefits of mental health. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Avatar

    Becky Lawson

    September 19, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Yoga IS for everybody. Not only do I belong to the 50+ crowd, I’m also a chronic pain sufferer, and am about 50 pounds overweight. I have health issues that keep me from a great deal of physical activity. Before my health crash in my 40s, I practiced yoga regularly. Then BAM. Now, somewhere around 15 years later, I’ve picked it back up and after only a month, I am having less pain. I have to modify everything to do with my neck and shoulders, but it’s definitely helping my range of motion, and I’m even getting some strength back. I’ll say it again, yoga is for everybody!

  4. Avatar

    Yogi Simant

    December 6, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Yoga no doubt is the most beneficial form of exercise. People from every age can learn and practice yoga and its forms. I am a professional Yoga teacher in India and have been helping people
    from many countries in learning all forms of yoga with the help of my
    Yoga classes in Rishikesh, India. You can check my website
    spirityoga.org for more details. We welcome volunteers who are interested in learning this beautiful Himalayan yoga tradition.

  5. Avatar

    Sam Moore

    June 5, 2017 at 1:10 am

    Yoga gives a lot of benefits to our bodies. I will practice Yoga until I can. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Avatar

    New Yoga Studio

    July 19, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Couldn’t agree more. Yoga is a great way to prevent aches and pains and also helps to maintain flexibility and help the mental state as well.

  7. Avatar

    Sutton Turner

    March 16, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    I am glad you mentioned that yoga can strengthen bones. My grandma does yoga every day and she just turned 70. Thanks for the benefits of doing yoga for people over 50.

  8. This Is the Best Workout Plan for People Over the Age of 50 | Viral Hub

    September 13, 2019 at 5:28 am

    […] decades or you’ve never been on a mat in your life, developing a regular yoga practice can have lasting health benefits, especially for the over 50 crowd. You’ll improve your balance, protect your joints, and you may […]

  9. Avatar

    Afton Jackson

    September 14, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Thank you for the information about yoga and how it can help with weight loss and muscle toning. Ever since my parents and other older relatives have started nearing retirement, they’ve felt like they haven’t had much of an opportunity to get some physical activity going. This concerns them, as they used to be so fit and now they’re feeling all kinds of pain and weight gain. Yoga sounds like a great place to start their fitness again, so I’ll look for any places that can offer classes to us.

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