Yoga is one of the most versatile and effect forms of exercise for women over 50 and their unique health concerns. How many of these amazing and beautiful women did you know are over 50? Helen Hunt, Helen Mirin, Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis, Melanie Griffith, Chris Evret, Christie Brinkley, Sharon Stone, Madonna, Oprah, Maria Shriver, Michelle Pfeiffer and Dana Delaney are all fabulous over 50. How many do you think do yoga?
Staying fit and trim as well as strong and relaxed can begin to change for women who often are concluding their roles as primary care givers of children and may be transitioning to more independence, or even incorporating care giving for aging parents. Changes in endocrine function, bone density and metabolism can all be safely and healthfully addressed through including yoga in your fitness routine. Plus you could become even more dynamic and hot as any of those stars of stage, court and screen!
Yoga balances endocrine function, that exquisitely dynamic dance of hormones and regulatory chemicals that govern everything from mood to sex drive, metabolism to bone density. Certain poses, such as Cow Face Pose and Eagle Pose, Head to Knee Pose and Fish Pose specifically target different glands and functions of the endocrine system and can be used to keep your system healthy and balanced.
Mood swings can be entirely a function of the endocrine system adjusting to age related changes, and so can be powerfully affected by the practice of a well rounded yoga practice including some of the targeted poses. Add in the stress relieving benefits of any form of yoga practice and you have an unbeatable balancing combination.
Thyroid function can be a persistent and difficult to control imbalance affecting women around this age. Fish Pose, Wheel Pose and Shoulder Stand all affect the thyroid gland and function from different perspectives, influencing blood flow and collateral hormone function. A well-rounded Intermediate Practice will include at least two of these poses and when practiced with regularity, breath and attention can positively affect thyroid function.
Bone density and maintenance are affected by heredity, endocrine balance as well as weight bearing and diet. A recent study demonstrates remarkable increase in bone density by participants who faithfully practiced a 10 minute routine of 10 poses including simple forward and backbends, triangle and simple twists1, which you can find within the article.
Because yoga poses include a wide variety of poses with weight bearing on the arms, the distribution of weight bearing is different from any other group exercise class. Simple poses such as Downward Dog, Plank and Cobra all involve upper body weight bearing that is beneficial to bone mass density.
The life changes, far from settling down, tend to accelerate after 50 and yoga helps to calm the nervous system. With a nervous system insulated from the damaging effects of stress, you’ll be able to channel the wise woman everyone expects and you’d like to be. Restorative Yoga and Forward Folds are specifically stress relieving and can yield benefits exponential to the time you carve out for practice. Even 15 minutes can be rejuvenating.
The practice of mula bandha, or engaging the pelvic floor, can be specifically beneficial for “leaky laughter” syndrome. With bonus effects on the muscles involved in sexual pleasure and performance, what better, discreet, non-pharmacological way to assure you maintain every part of your life for years to come?
Problems with digestion can plague us as we get older, for a variety of reasons. Yoga’s multi-dimensional and complementary movements, most especially twists, are efficiently effective for encouraging normal motility, elimination and optimal absorption.
If you’re new to practicing yoga and beginning over 50, first of all, Brava! Don’t skip the warm-up section of your practice, you might even enhance it. Seek out a teacher or routine with a balance of forward and backbends, and build up slowly to intermediate poses such as inversions and arm balances. Try a variety of styles before settling on the style and teacher who are right for you and consider including at least one Restorative Yoga session a week in your practice for stress relief and plain old pleasure, and you won’t have to wait long to feel revitalized!
1. Fishman, Loren M. MD. (2009, July/Sept). Yoga for Osteoporosis: A Pilot Study. Topics in Geriatric Rehabiliation. Retrieved September 14, 2011 from http://journals.lww.com/topicsingeriatricrehabilitation/Fulltext/2009/07000/Yoga_for_Osteoporosis__A_Pilot_Study.9.aspx%5D