We are told not to complain because aging is a privilege denied to many.
But sometimes, one has to wonder.
Between the stiffening joints, diminished endurance, and reduced strength, aging can feel like an uphill battle never to be won.
Yoga is one of the world’s oldest systems of movement and meditation. It originates from India and has been known as a modality for increasing flexibility and calming the mind. But now yoga is receiving attention for contributing to healthy aging.
At the Paseo Club, we support people in being the best version of themselves at every age. We have members from babies to eighties and everywhere in between. We know that health, fitness, and community are important pillars in everyone’s life.
In this article, we will share why yoga can benefit you, how it positively affects your body, and where you can do yoga in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Benefits of yoga for aging
Over time, everyone becomes less flexible, slower, weaker, and needs longer recovery after exercising. Workouts you used to be able to complete competently, you now need to scale. Daily aches and pains increase — exponentially it seems.
There is no way to stop the process of aging.
But you do not have to accept these limitations. There are steps to increase the quality of your life and help you feel as good as you can as you enter your elder years.
Yoga encourages you to move and breathe in poses you may not normally move into, stretching areas with limited motion and range. Yoga helps to increase flexibility and mobility and can even decrease symptoms of arthritis and inflammation.
Some beneficial poses for enhancing your mobility are cat and cow, butterfly pose, and downward facing dog.
A sense of balance diminishes for many different reasons. Health conditions such as diabetes, low blood pressure, anemia, and poor circulation play an active role in this challenge.
But even without medical problems, coordination, the vestibular system, and depth-perception all take a hit as we age. This transition begins as early as our 40s and 50s.
Practicing balancing poses helps to develop your strength, improve coordination, and master transitions. Consider mountain, tree, dancer, or side plank poses to improve your balance.
Yoga poses build strength isometrically — statically holding a position. Many leaders in fitness, including bodybuilders, have championed isometrics. But you do not have to go heavy to get results. Just your body weight is enough.
When you engage in isometric movements, you build longer, leaner muscles. This approach can also protect you from joint aggravation or injury — an essential feature as you age.
Yoga movements that build strength are warrior pose, boat pose, hovering tabletop, and lunge pose.
Increases bone density
Movement and weight bearing exercises help strengthen bones and minimize bone density loss. Weight bearing poses such as warrior one and two, tree pose, and plank can help support bone integrity.
Improves mental health
Although yoga improves physical health, yoga’s emphasis on breath and meditation nurtures mental health as well.
Participating in a yoga practice lessens stress hormones while increasing “feel good” hormones such as endorphins. Yoga is more effective in improving well-being compared to reading, listening to music, or relaxing in a sedentary manner.
To get the most from your yoga practice, consider getting into a happy baby pose, camel pose, upward dog pose, or the deeply restorative, corpse pose.
Improves quality of sleep
Older adults who practice yoga tend to have a better quality of sleep, longer durations of sleep, and fewer interruptions in the night. They feel more well-rested during the day and depend on sleep medications less often than their counterparts.
Stretching and strengthening muscles during yoga engages mental and physical energies that facilitate a greater sense of relaxation and comfort.
Nurture your sleep by lying on the floor and placing your legs up the wall, folding into baby pose, or doing a supine twist.
Supports cognitive function
As we age, it is not just our bodies that change — our brains do too. Our memories are not as reliable, our attention wanders, and our ability to focus reduces.
There is more and more research to explore natural ways to maintain or boost cognitive function as we age. Puzzles, games, exercise, gardening, reading, and socializing all contribute to helping minimize cognitive decline.
Yoga benefits cognitive function in two ways. Directly, yoga is shown to improve verbal memory and attention. Indirectly, yoga increases relaxation, improves the sleep quality, and reduces stress — all features that support the brain and its functioning.
Where to attend a yoga class in the Santa Clarita Valley
The Santa Clarita Valley is home to a number of yoga centers. There are many styles of yoga. Seniors and beginners may want to look for classes labeled yin, beginner, or gentle yoga.
Thermal Horizons has many classes available to students, including therapeutics with gentle movement — a class that focuses on the nervous system. They also provide classes on yin yoga and vinyasa or flow yoga.
Yoga Yoga has a soothing candlelit yoga class for beginners. This is a wonderful class to take at the end of a long day. There is also a gentle yoga class for people of all experience levels.
My Yoga Canyon Country is a cozy studio offering basics, gentle flow, and yin classes. You can also enjoy a “Nourishing Nidra” class, which focuses on relaxation and meditation.
Serenity Hot Yoga focuses on hot yoga classes, but they also offer some relaxing yin and restorative options as well.
The Paseo Cluboffers beginner/intermediate yoga, lightflow, and therapeutic yoga to members of all abilities. Classes are free with a membership.
Final thoughts on yoga for aging adults
It is never too late to begin your first yoga class. There are many ways that it can help boost your quality of life and slow the effects of aging.
When you prepare to attend your first yoga class, it is best to start with a low-intensity option. You can slowly increase the duration and difficulty to minimize over-extension or injury.
Always introduce yourself to your instructor prior to class and tell them about any injuries you have. This will help them to scale the yoga poses, keeping you safe and comfortable.
The Paseo Club is a social club with a focus on health, fitness, and community. We offer over 60 fitness classes per week, including Pilates, Zumba, weights, and yoga.
There are also courts for tennis and pickleball and a junior Olympic pool for laps and water aerobics.
Jen Azevedo is a person of many talents. She is a tennis professional, pickleball professional, personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and the general manager of the Paseo Club. She loves the community at the Paseo Club and that it is also a safe and fun place for her daughter. Jen’s favorite activities are joining her tribe for trail races or her partners for tennis matches. Occasionally Jen slows down to relax with a book — she reads over 100 a year!