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Yoga Over Fifty

Old 04-25-06, 12:02 PM
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Yoga Over Fifty

I'd be interested in hearing the experiences of anyone who took up yoga AFTER turning fifty or thereabouts. I have some joint pain, back pain, and inflexibility issues I'd like to address because cycling doesn't do a thing for them (except they don't bother me when I'm cycling!), and think maybe yoga is a good way to do that -- but I've had several false starts with yoga over the years. A couple of times in a class where I just couldn't seem to fit in, and a couple of videos that looked good the first couple of times and then seemed too boring.

My main question is can a person over fifty start and find benefit in a yoga program? Have you found it possible to do it from a tape/video at home, or is a class (and the right instructor) really the key to success?

Would yoga yield better benefits than Pilates?

Anyway -- insight into yoga for people over fifty would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 04-25-06, 12:23 PM
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Perhaps this will help. I don't practice yoga. I am 61 and started working out ~9 years ago. At the gym I have taken a few yoga classes and found them to be valuable and enjoyable. IMO the better classes help to teach poses so you can then do them yourself. You see where this is going: less (not no) need for instructors so less likelihood of it actually happening. Some classes had so little repeat poses that I couldn't learn (but I guess that some people may prefer that). If I didn't have the commute-from-(to?)-hell I would take more yoga classes. While some weight training concentrating on range-of-motion can help with flexibility I would prefer yoga. I don't know anything about Pilates.

As an inter-galactically qualified expert (since I took a couple of classes) I would encourage you to try.
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Old 04-25-06, 12:56 PM
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I started doing Bikram Yoga when I was 45 - I am 50 now. I had chronic back aches over the years from lifting things wrong, 3 years of constant travel with laptops and gear, then a sedentary job, all sorts of things agravated it. Chiropractors helped but the relief was always temporary. I finally got up the nerve to walk into a yoga studio and try Bikram yoga (2-3x/wk). Within a month, I had no more back pain. I was also a lot more relaxed from the breathing exercises and body effort, and had lost 5 lbs. Sounds like a commercial, doesn't it? At the time it was nothing short of amazing for me.

All Yoga involves special poses, and breathing exercises. Bikram also involves 26 poses, but in a heated room, for added benefits, although many find the addition of the heat makes it too strenuous. The heat is supposed to warm muscles for flexibility, help with sweating out toxins and gets the HR up. It is a serious aerobic workout, but should not be attempted if you have heat sensitivities or cardio problems. The poses themselves are great for flexibility in the muscles and joints, as well as improving balance, a benefit gained from any form of yoga.

Since I no longer live close to a studio and bike quite a bit now, I have not done as much yoga lately, but still take a class occasionally to keep flexible. There is really nothing like it. I highly recommend Yoga in any form if you want to improve your flexibility, balance and peace of mind.

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Old 04-25-06, 02:00 PM
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Yes, I am pretty sure Yogi is over 50...but I'm not so sure about Boo Boo.
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Old 04-25-06, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mtnroads
. I highly recommend Yoga in any form if you want to improve your flexibility, balance and peace of mind.
My experience as well.

When my back went to hell last October, I was desperate for anything that would help. Fortunately, my problem was a disc bulge that didn't need surgery. Nevertheless, I was in extreme pain and could not walk without crutches. I too decided to try Bikram Yoga and found it to be helpful.

HOWEVER, in Bikram, they don't just heat the room; they crank up the heat to somewhere near 105 degrees. And the program of postures is no picnic. You don't go beyond your limits but you certainly come to the edge of them. The class is 90 minutes of sweat; you really work.

I no longer go to Bikram that often, but I have incorporated many of their stretches into a daily routine, which blends in stretches prescribed by a chiropractor. I've found that I'm MUCH MORE flexible than I was several months ago. I believe yoga--along with core strengthening--has allowed me to get back on the bike.

Bottom line, I used to think stretching was a nice idea but not that important. I was wrong. As we age we lose flexibility. A good yoga program might keep you from getting injured or get you back in the saddle faster if you have been injured.

Moreover, I agree with mtnroads. Yoga does help promote balance (in all its forms) and peace of mind.

If you don't mind the somewhat New-Age flavor, Rodney Yee has some pretty good videos available at Amazon. There may be others. He's all I know about.
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Old 04-25-06, 02:07 PM
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My wife and I failed Yoga 101!

Never again.
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Old 04-25-06, 02:51 PM
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I was taught the "Lotus" position in my first year at School. Think this was so you could not escape back to MOM but still use that position if I want to stretch the muscles and feel the pain.
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Old 04-25-06, 02:52 PM
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I really like lemon yoga.
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Old 04-25-06, 03:58 PM
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I do about an hour of yoga per week all in one session. Not only does it help with flexibility it also helps you get in touch with your posture to see if there are any slightly tight muscles. When you are only a little out of whack it is pretty easy to do some stretches to bring things back into balance. I used to get lower back muscles into painful spasm on occasion before I started doing yoga on a regular basis. I haven't had such problems in years.
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Old 04-25-06, 04:59 PM
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i am also a firm believer in yoga. started iyenger yoga last fall, a 1 and a half hour class once per week. i feel its very important to do it in a class . iyenger yoga believes the asansas are to be done correct in perfect alinement. i do feel i can do some of the basic asansas at home without an instructor.
i can not believe whats it done for my golf swing. can't believe it but i hit the ball well over 25 yards farther per drive. also much more flexible on the bike. used to have tight back muscles after each ride but not any more. its great would recommend it for everyone.
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Old 04-25-06, 08:02 PM
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I'm a big fan of chocolate yoga. No, I'm a fan and anything chocolate.
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Old 04-25-06, 08:07 PM
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Yoga over 50? Personally, I think that Yoga over 30 mph is pretty risky. 50 is definitely a no-no.

JiO
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Old 04-26-06, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Digital Gee
My main question is can a person over fifty start and find benefit in a yoga program? Have you found it possible to do it from a tape/video at home, or is a class (and the right instructor) really the key to success? Would yoga yield better benefits than Pilates?

Anyway -- insight into yoga for people over fifty would be appreciated. Thanks!
It's never too late to start Yoga or for that matter any other activity such as cycling etc. Benefits of yoga for the 50+ is the same as for any other age and they include breath control, flexibility, balance and numerous others. It is best to start with a good instructor to get the positions and movements correctly, then you have a lifetime to practice and improve.
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Old 04-26-06, 08:50 AM
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I do it every day. It can be no more than a different name for stretching. You will need to do some reasearch to see which type you want.
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Old 04-26-06, 08:50 AM
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Hi Gary,
I started seven years ago (at 52), and would have quickly gotten discouraged and given up without the help of a good instructor. It still took awhile to actually enjoy practicing 2 or 3 times a week, but I wouldn't trade my practice for anything now. The key for me was to attend regular sessions at a studio - both for the guidance and adjustments of the instructor, and for the encouragement from the other students. The great thing about a regular practice is that you can do it anywhere - studio, home, hotels, at the beach - wherever - without any equipment. And the benefits are amazing - flexibility, core strength, focus - all stuff that makes a nice difference while riding.

Oh, and my wife and I just returned from a week in your beautiful city. What a great place to ride year around. I'm a little envious.
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Old 04-26-06, 10:38 AM
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Gary, I think the quality of the instruction is critical. I don't practice yoga. I'm still doing my martial arts routines started 30 years ago. My wife, however, does practice every day. When she first started, she actually did some damage to herself. She has a curvature of the spine, and there were some positions that she just should not do. It took her several teachers before she found one that would actually listen to her describe her experiences and knew what to suggest. The others were treating her like a newbie who was just complaining. A video can't listen at all. So, I'd encourage you to find a good teacher and start that way. There's no substitution for a good teacher who can give feedback.
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Old 04-26-06, 11:19 AM
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I have a friend who is a yoaga instructor at the local gym. She keeps trying to get me to join a class, but over the past few years I have wathced her gain weight- lose her figure - lose her looks and she is still trying to get me to do it. She used to be far fitter when she rode out with us across the hills- but for some reason she does not want to do that any more.
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Old 04-26-06, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by stapfam
I have a friend who is a yoaga instructor at the local gym. She keeps trying to get me to join a class, but over the past few years I have wathced her gain weight- lose her figure - lose her looks and she is still trying to get me to do it. She used to be far fitter when she rode out with us across the hills- but for some reason she does not want to do that any more.
Darn! - same thing is happening to me! Could it be that age thing?...
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Old 04-26-06, 12:34 PM
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Some have mentioned the need to find a good instructor and I couldn't agree more. As with anything, some are good, some less so, although with Bikram, at least some basic training and certification is required. There was one instructor who was really excellent at the studio I went to. One day, fairly early on in my yoga work, I was bothered by a tight feeling or misalignment in the middle of my back, which had been there for several days. The instructor was watching everyone in their poses, and suddenly walked from across the room and quietly pressed his thumb on exactly the spot on my back that had been bothering me, and it clicked back into place, to my great relief. He had seen the misalignment from across the room.
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Old 04-27-06, 08:19 AM
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yoga is changing my life

I started doing yoga last December at age 61. I have a very stressful job, am one of the rare males who suffers from fibromyalgia (it is a struggle to get moving almost every morning), and have been riding a road bike ~2000 miles/year for the past 6 years, both winter (in Wisconsin) and summer. I took a course in stress reduction where a number of different techniques were taught including several forms of meditation and yoga. I don't have the patience to do meditation, but I have continued to do yoga nearly every day at home (alone) and it has had some pretty amazing benefits. I have a friend who is a physical the****** who as been telling me for years that it would help me a great deal, but like many (most?) men I had 20 different reasons why I couldn't/wouldn't do it: I am really inflexible (I can't get anywhere near a lotus position, can't touch my toes, etc), I didn't think I had the time for it (I work a minimum of 60 hrs/week), but most of all I just could not see myself doing it --being one of THOSE weenies (I come from a working class background and just the thought of it was embarrassing). In any case I took the stress reduction course out of desperation because the fibromyalgia pain and several other stress-related problems were making it really difficult to keep up with my job, and were taking a toll on my long-suffering wife. The course met once a week for ~2 hours, and lasted 8 weeks. We started doing yoga about 4 weeks into it and by the end I was starting to notice some benefits, but still pretty subtle. After 1-2 months of doing it by myself (while listening to a CD from the course), it was clear that I was starting to become more relaxed throughout the day, I had been able to significantly reduce the dosages of the pain killers I take for the fibromyalgia, for the first time could ride for more than 2 hours without having to endure severe pain in my neck, shoulders and back, and my wife was clearly enjoying my company more than before. Now after ~4 months things are still getting better, and I have noticed a significant improvement in my aerobic capacity on hills even though I have not been riding any more than I did before. What is most surprising is that these benefits have occurred without much progress in my flexibility (I still can't touch my toes). For me anyway, the benefits have been more mental than physical, although it has clearly strengthened my core/postural muscles. If I were to do all of the stretches and poses one after another the way I used to exercise with weights, it would have little benefit. It is clearly the breathing and other relaxation techniques that go with it that have been so beneficial. I used to walk around with virtually every muscle in my body tightened up for many hours per day, and if I made an effort to relax it only lasted a couple of minutes at most. Now I am free from that pain-inducing tension nearly all of the time --I become immediately aware if it when it starts and can consciously turn it off and keep it off. When I ride my bike I can now just use the muscles needed to turn the pedals and support myself --I presume that is why biking has become virtually pain free, and why my aerobic capacity has increased so much. It also seems to have loosened up my muscles even though they aren't much 'longer' than before --what I have noticed is that I can easily make movements to a point close to the maximum that I can reach after prolonged stretching, whereas before I could only readily move perhaps one-half that far and it would take 10 mins or more of stretching before I could flex or extend to my limit. I suspect that muscle/joint loosening effect also accounts for some of the improvements I notice when biking. Anyway, that is my experience thus far as completely and honestly as I can describe it. Even though the fibromyalgia was a big reason why I started it, I clearly would have benefited nearly as much without that condition. Needless to say I would highly recommend it to anyone regardless of age.
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Old 04-27-06, 08:33 AM
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Welcome aboard, lhaberly. Thanks for a great post.
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Old 04-27-06, 11:20 AM
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Welcome, great story, and remember - paragraphs are your friend!
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Old 04-29-06, 03:31 PM
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Well, I've located two or three yoga places within an easy commute on my Cruiser. (For which, by the way, i just bought a basket and bell -- so much fun!). The classes appear to be about $40-44 a month for four classes, each about 1.5 hours. I guess I'll go check 'em out and see which one appeals to me and then give it a go. Seems like a reasonable fee.

There are yoga classes at the gym 24-Hour Fitness I belong to, but my one and only experience there was negative. No individual attention, I had to try to keep up or fit in with some pretty experienced folks, and so on. These local places seem (at least on the internet) to be smaller, friendlier, and hey -- yoga is what they do.

Maybe one of these days i'll be able to bend over and touch my toes!
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Old 04-29-06, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Digital Gee
Maybe one of these days i'll be able to bend over and touch my toes!
Good going. You will probably be able to do more than that - perhaps bend over and put your hands flat on the floor, something that always amazes my sedentary friends, several of whom think yoga is silly.

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Old 04-29-06, 06:23 PM
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I'm 58 and just started taking 2 45 min classes a week 3 months ago. What a difference in flexability and in how I feel! I can actually look over my left shoulder to see traffic now!
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