One of the great things about yoga is that it is a perfect way to exercise, regardless of age or gender. One demographic that can benefit a great deal from incorporating a daily yoga routine into their life, are seniors. You may not be doing crazy headstands and back-bends, but there are alternatives or modifications that can be made to almost any asana (or yoga pose). Specifically, yoga for men 50 and older is safe and can help aide in flexibility, functional capacity, energy, and endurance.
Related Article: A Reference Guide To The Most Popular Chair Yoga Postures & Poses
The National Recreation & Park Association recommends yoga as a "total-solution exercise" for older adults.
According to Time, 18% of yogis or people participating in the practice of yoga, are men. These men are not just here for the short term, many of them are advancing their practice, from the "rich & famous", to athletes, to your run of the mile 9-5 working man.
Well, the answer is easy. Why do your stick to a certain exercise routine? Why do your eat a certain way? Why has preventative care become so mainstream?
It's because something is working, right!
In specifics, men who've practiced yoga, (according to this same article in Time), had a better body image about themselves, reduced stress, less anxiety, improved balance, a healthier heart and even insomnia relief.
Now, clearly we're focusing more on men over the age of about 50, as it pertains to this article, and these same benefits are prevalent to in this age group, as well as some other notable important ones...
Men older then 50, see "yoga as a way to not just maintain, but enhance physical function", including increased libido and/or sex performance, according to Men's Journal.
As we get older, it's no secrete that our bodies begin to break-down to some extent. However, if we continue to exercise and eat healthy, we can combat some of these effects for a longer duration of time.
One of the problems is men continue to want to train like we're 25 with the same old heavy weight bearing exercises, trust me I know from experience. Some people will be able to maintain this training longer based on many factors, one of that being "great genes".
However many of us need to change up our habits, to create less strain on our muscles and joints, but at the same time continue to strengthen them. This is where yoga comes into play.
Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise, meaning it doesn't create the force that other high-impact exercises have on our joints. Other examples of low-impact exercises would include, swimming, cycling, or the elliptical. This is one reason yoga can be great for people new to working out, older individuals with joint issues, as well as individuals recovering from injury.
According to American Sports and Fitness Association, forms of low-impact exercises help to build strength and flexibility around the joints, offering protection, as well as yoga specifically, being beneficial for posture and balance due it's ability to build core-strength.
A Sense of Empowerment!
There have even been studies, like this one, implementing design structures to incorporate yoga asanas targeted for ambulatory older populations.
At any level of yoga, or age, we have the ability to discover ourselves, our power, and our courage.
When we think of empowerment through the practice of yoga, it's thinking about what we can do, and what we have achieved. It's about unifying ourselves through our body, mind, and spiritual self, which can in-turn lead to a sense of empowerment and/or accomplishment.
Related Article: Why Yoga Works for Relaxation, Even for Beginners!
Without Further Ado!
This video highlights classic yoga poses for older men. Some other poses will follow throughout the rest of the post.
A good preparatory routine is essential for
anyone that wants to start doing yoga. Before jumping straight into postures,
it's a good idea to do some light stretching just to prepare your body for the
exercise. This becomes extremely important for seniors as they are more likely
to have tightness in their bodies.
When doing the stretches, you may want to target the lower back, arms, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. It is also a good idea to stretch the hips as well, since the most effective yoga postures for older men are active in this area.
Now that you're sufficiently stretched, it's time to move into the yoga poses.
The forward fold is a great posture for anyone, older men included, partly because it is a beginner asana.
This position will stretch and benefit the hamstrings, calves, hips, lower and upper back. Uttanasana can also help with balance, and is a forward-bend, stretch type pose.
This forward fold is an especially good posture to use if you're utilizing a yoga routine as a way to prepare your body for a more rigorous workout.
Another great pose for any yoga routine for men 50 and older, is the downward-facing dog. A staple in yoga, Adho Mukha Svanasana is a beginner pose, done in the prone-type position and is said to help strengthen the core.
This asana can help to loosen tight muscles in the feet, shoulders, back, hips, hamstrings as well as the legs and arms. It is an inversion, forward-bend, stretch and strength-type pose.
1. The easiest and one of the more common ways to assume this position is starting in the "table-top" position or asana. Arms and hands shoulder width, feet should be hip-width apart.
2. Hands should be roughly 3-4 inches above your shoulders. From here, come up on your toes, and begin to lift the hips toward the sky, by straightening your legs and pressing your buttock upward.
3. Press through the palms of your hands and fingers, outward. Head facing downward.
4. As you press the buttocks and hips upwards, your chest should be coming closer toward your thigh area.
5. Attempt to keep the back straight, without an arch.
6. If able, attempt to press the heals into the floor, which should increase the stretch on your calves.
7. Hold for a 3-5 breath cycle, then bend at the knees, and lower the hips/buttock back down to "table-top" position.
After the downward-facing dog comes the chair pose. This powerful yoga posture for older men will target areas such as the shoulders, arms, hips, and help build strength in the legs and spine.
A beginner friendly, straightforward pose, that will still test endurance and muscle fatigue. Utkatasana helps with stretch, strength and balance.
1. Start in Tadasana, feet together or roughly hip-width apart, pointing straight ahead.
2. Raise your arms perpendicular to the floor, while inhaling.
3. Begin to bend at the knees while exhaling. Depending on comfort level will dictate how far your buttocks will drop. Attempt to drop your thighs parallel to the ground.
4. Your knees should be overtop your ankles, with a slight forward tilt to your torso.
5. Reach high with your fingertips, interlocking your hands or keeping them parallel to one another.
6. Hold for 3-5 cycles of breath.
Essential in any yoga routine for older men is the warrior pose II or Virabhadrasana II. This pose can help benefit the shoulders, hips, back, quadriceps and chest, promoting strength in both the upper and lower areas of the body.
One of the most crucial benefits of utilizing this pose is the hip stretches, as this is a common source of injury in both daily life and workout routines.
Virabhadrasana II is a beginner asana, done in the standing position, also helping to promote balance.
1. Begin by spreading the legs farther then shoulder width.
2. With the right leg back, (the right toes) it should be facing the right wall. The left leg in front (or left toes) should be facing the front wall. The front and back feet should be in a good line with one another. The front of the torso will also be facing the right wall.
3. The left leg (one in front) should have a slight bend to where the knee is directly over the left ankle.
4. Bring your arms up parallel to the floor, with the left arm straightened forward, and the right arm stretched out behind.
5. Press your feet firmly into the ground, stand head & chest-up, reach with your fingertips in both directions.
6. Focused breathing of 3-5 cycles. Switch legs. Repeat.
The bridge pose can be a little more difficult for older men, but it is a great way to stretch critical areas of the body, and over time it can be accomplished even if it's difficult at first. It's helpful to have a yoga mat when performing Setubandha Sarvangasana.
This beginner friendly yoga pose
stretches the chest, abdomen, neck, spine, quads, hips, and back, all of which are extremely vital
areas for us all!
The bridge yoga pose is done in the supine position and is a back-bend, stretch, and strength, type asana. It's used in many forms of yoga, like restorative yoga.
1. Lye down with your back on the mat, or supine.
2. Bend both of your legs at this time, placing your heels/bottom of feet on mat, close to your buttock. Your finger tips may be close to touching or touching your heels.
3. Exhale. With your feet roughly hip-width apart, using both your legs and your arms, drive your hips off the mat. Your knees should remain overtop your ankles/heels.
4. Thighs should be parallel to one another, buttock parallel to the ground, now interlock your hands underneath your buttock/hamstring area.
5. Breath in and out for a cycle of 3-5. Gently let your hips back downward to the mat to come out of bridge pose.
While this list is not all-inclusive, it is a great place to start if you would like to try yoga to improve your overall quality of life. As these poses become easier for you, you can progress to more advanced poses and gleam even more benefits that can be achieved with yoga for older men.
Please feel free to share your own experiences with others on how yoga has improved your overall physical and mental state of mind. Be sure to share this blog post on your social media platforms.
We hope you come back again soon!