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Beginning Gentle Yoga at Age 50 and Over

April 03, 20243 min read

Age is Not a Barrier

Beginning Gentle Yoga at Age 50 and Over

“No one is too old to practice yoga…One of the most wonderful and revealing things about yoga is the incredible range of humanity who can practice it and receive its results.” ~Eugene Rawls & Eve Diskin, Yoga for Beauty and Health:  Look Younger-Be Relaxed

The above quotation comes from one of the first books I read to teach myself gentle hatha yoga at age fifteen. Over a half-century ago. I have many decades of experience with gentle hatha yoga. However, yoga is wonderful because you can start practicing it at ANY age. You need not start as a teen as I did, although you definitely benefit from doing so.

Granted, an 18-year-old may be able to immediately move into certain poses with little difficulty (although, not necessarily!).  And, in contrast, someone who has “swung around the sun” for a few or many more years may need more time before executing yoga poses with ease. 

However, anytime you begin moving, stretching, or bending your body in a new way, you may be challenged!  No matter what your age is. This morning I attended a “yoga with weights” class taught by a substitute instructor who had me go into some new poses. I wobbled a lot! I felt so out of my comfort zone. But you know what, it felt good too! And, the young instructor told me that she recently attended a yoga class that whipped her butt because she was introduced to some new poses.

The beauty of gentle hatha yoga is that unless you have a permanent disability or particular physical handicap, age is no barrier to starting a yoga practice that you can continue to do for the rest of your life. Because hatha yoga poses require you to move slowly and hold them for prescribed periods of time (20 seconds to three minutes), they are especially suited to beginners starting at age 50 and beyond.

Stories abound about “seniors” doing yoga. 

The Washington Post Style section once featured an eighty-something-year-old woman who practiced yoga regularly, doing poses I have not dared to attempt yet. And she still loves to wear stiletto heels after her yoga practice. My former minister knew a woman who at age 100 was teaching yoga and bemoaned the fact that she had to buy her FIRST pair of reading eyeglasses a year or two later. And, of course, Tao Porchon-Lynch, the world-renowned yoga instructor to whom I dedicate this yoga blog taught yoga classes until five days before she died in her sleep at age 101. Below is Tao giving me some hints to improve my pose.

Don’t use your age as an excuse to not begin yoga!

Laura’s special hint for all yoga beginners starting at age 50 and over:

I came across this suggestion years ago – I can’t remember where. Here is what you do:

Before each practice at home or before you begin a yoga class, take a moment to turn inward. Then focus on yourself at a younger age when you felt at your peak. Stay there in your mind as you learn and execute your poses.

I know, I know.  Sounds kind of like California, new age, woo-woo stuff. But, it’s not a bad idea to contemplate and test for yourself as you start doing yoga.  It certainly won’t hurt and you may reap even greater results from your yoga practice, regardless of your chronological age!  Our spiritual essence is ageless. Practicing yoga regularly enables us to realize this.



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