Yoga For Beginners over 40: Tips, Poses and Benefits
Getting Stressed About Starting Yoga After The Age Of 40? Don’t Be.
Yoga is more than just a fitness routine that involves cardiovascular or repetitive exercises, where age and physical fitness determines your workout regimen.
It is a practice that naturally moves the focus of your body to self-awareness, inner healing, and better health.
A centuries-old practice that combines physical exercise, meditation, and breathing techniques, Yoga helps in developing wellness of mind and body.
Yoga has been found to assist in better aging, through increased flexibility achieved through low-impact stretches and exercises.
Regular strength training that yoga offers to minimize the muscle loss that occurs as we age and also helps keep bones strong.
Another advantage that yoga has is that it does not require special equipment and therefore can be done just about anywhere with just a yoga mat.
One can start and do yoga at any age. Keep your current fitness and flexibility levels in mind and start at a level that you are comfortable with.
While there are multiple schools of yoga, and various practitioners advocate different routines, one which has gained immense popularity in recent years
“Hatha Yoga”: This Yoga lays emphasis on the physical aspect of yoga rather than the meditative form of the ancient Eastern sages.
Some tips to keep in mind for a beginner who is learning yoga after the age of 40:
1. Start slow and at a pace that you are comfortable with
Advanced yoga postures shown on television can be a deterrent for even the most ardent enthusiast.
While it is great if one can eventually reach there, even the simplest yoga stretches for beginners offers significantly improved flexibility and help unlock rigid muscles.
2. Be Regular
The benefits of yoga can only be experienced if incorporated into a regular routine. Yoga is correctly termed as a “practice”.
Ensure that you find time to do yoga and make it a matter of habit.
Eventually, the benefits of the practice are so noticeable and significant to daily life, that individuals themselves do not want to compromise on their yoga schedule.
3. Have a well-trained yoga teacher
This is especially important for those touching their forties or for those who are newly trying yoga after the age of forty.
A good teacher will develop a routine that is consistent for your age and fitness levels.
Having a regimented teacher based routine will also ensure overall discipline in your practice.
A yoga teacher is further important for a beginner as yoga combines breathing and exercise, which can be best taught in a live interaction rather than through a DVD.
4. Ensure that your lifestyle is also harmonious with yoga
Benefits of yoga can be best realized when it is combined with adequate sleep, correct eating habits and toning down or avoiding excesses relating to alcohol and smoking.
Ensure that these go together to fully experience the enhanced quality of life that yoga offers you.
Here are a few simple beginner’s yoga poses suited to persons over 40 years of age:
1. Warrior Pose
This standing pose helps improve bone density and strengthens the lower body. It also offers a good stretch through the inner thighs, hip and groin area.
- Begin this pose with your feet at hip distance apart from each other and arms straight at the side.
- Slowly turn to the right and place the right foot at least 3 feet from the left, turning at a 90-degree angle.
- Once your feet are in position, inhale and raise your arms to reach shoulder height.
- Then exhale and bend your right leg till the thigh is parallel with the floor.
- Make sure that the left leg is straight at this point. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
2. Tree Pose
A great pose for improving balance, the Tree Pose is suitable for all ages and is one of the best poses for a beginner.
- You need to stand with your legs placed together and your arms placed straight over your head with the palms together and facing each other.
- Raise your right leg slowly so that the toes are still on the ground and your heel rests just above your left ankle.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat with the other leg. As you gain confidence and balance, you can slowly raise the bent foot till you are able to rest your foot above the knee of the opposite leg.
Why Yoga for beginners over 40?
Here are a few well-known, along with some ‘not-so-well-known’ benefits of yoga:
1. An overall fitness routine.
Yoga pranayama (breathing techniques), it’s postures, coupled with meditation, targets mind, and body increases flexibility improves mental health and detoxifies your system.
Your fitness levels are higher and your body’s ability to withstand disease is further developed.
2. Enhanced memory and better cognitive functioning.
The meditation techniques used in Yoga can increase memory capacity and help you concentrate better.
You have a heightened awareness of the world around you and a mind that is a lot more focused.
3. Effective for reducing pain.
Incredible as it may sound, pain relief is one of the lesser-known benefits of yoga.
Used over many centuries by Asians for chronic pain relief, particularly in problem areas such as the back and neck.
Yoga improves the overall quality of life from those suffering from pain with minimal side-effects.
4. Boost your immunity.
It is said that our individual selves are a cohesive system of the spirit, mind, and body.
The mind and body are interconnected and irregularities in one area manifest as illness in the other.
Yoga targets muscle groups to release stress and along with the correct breathing technique improves immunity.
5. Target optimum weight.
Those who practice Yoga are more aware and in tune with their bodies and mindful of what they eat.
Increased sensitivity to hunger cues and a confident relation with food can deliver lower BMIs (Body Mass Index) and reduced weight gain in middle and old age.
6. Respiratory Efficiency.
One of the few regimens that incorporate a fair amount of breathing exercises, ‘pranayama’ in yoga increases lung capacity and lowers breathing rate as well as helps your lungs hold more volume of air.
Yoga is not a short, fast solution for a problem. Yoga has short, medium and long-term benefits.
While you see improved flexibility and lower stress levels within just a few weeks, some of Yoga’s real contributions may be evident only after a few months or years.
Sustained practice of Yoga can reduce chronic pain, reduce blood sugar levels give you a better lung capacity in a matter of months.
Long-term benefits include maintaining a healthy weight, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stronger bones at the advanced age.
Begin your Yoga routine early in life and train with an experienced practitioner.
Start small, but stay consistent.
The world of yoga and its potential contribution to your life in better aging and improved quality of life is immense!