First, I want to thank you for stopping by to read this post about yoga for older men. I asked my wife to help me define my age group. I am in my mid-40’s, so I am no longer considered a young man, and I have not yet reached the status of old man, so we decided on “older” as a good term for my age bracket. Old people consider me young, and young people consider me old or older, so there you have it.
Anyway, in this post, I am going to discuss yoga for older men. I took up yoga as an older person, so I would like to discuss and encourage other men in my age group to consider doing the same. I will discuss the benefits, as well as what I am getting out of my yoga practice. My goal is to encourage middle-aged guys to take up the practice of yoga and reap the many benefits.
Why start practicing yoga?
Now, the reason I started practicing yoga was due to my back problems. I have a history of back issues, which you can read about here if you like. I have been dealing with back problems most of my adult life. I injured myself pretty badly in late 2015. I had blown a disc in my low back, and I sprained my SI joint. I was dealing with spinal stenosis, as the blown disc was pushing against my spinal cord, causing me to be bent over at about a 30-degree angle at the waist. For months, I was bent over. I spent a lot of time on my back with my feet elevated, icing my pelvis.
I worked with a chiropractor, and he put me back together. Once I was finally able to get back in the gym, I was very limited. I was not able to do any twisting of any kind until I was able to build up some core strength. My core strength had been lacking before my injury, and now it was time to focus on that. As I progressed in my recovery, I asked the chiropractor about yoga. He told me this would be one of the best things I could do going forward.
So, for me, it was all about getting my back in shape. In addition to that, I wanted to improve flexibility and balance. Dealing with back problems for a long time, I have developed some really tight muscles, hamstrings being one of the tightest. So improving flexibility and balance were important to me. If you are an active golfer, or tennis player, or are involved in other sports, you know the benefits of being flexible. Flexibility can help you out big time.
What do you want to get out of practicing yoga?
For me, helping gain core strength, flexibility, and balance, to help with my back problems, were the primary motivating factors for starting yoga. For you, it might be something different. Some people practice yoga for stress relief, some people practice helping them sleep better. For other people, this is their physical workout.
I was once a stiff “older” guy, so I know what that is like. Things can change and be better for you. If you have lost some of that zip, you might want to give yoga a try. I feel more energetic, and my physical body is getting better as a result. Yoga is helping me to feel better physically and that allows me to relax so I can focus on yoga while I am practicing. It’s like a nice break at the end of the day.
The benefits of yoga are numerous
If you have not practiced before, then you might want to take a minute and read through this post first. I mentioned flexibility, balance, and even improved sleep as a result of practicing yoga. The benefits might be different for different people. A friend of mine recently went to the doctor for a checkup. The doctor told my friend his blood pressure was high. The doctor recommended yoga as a way to help with high blood pressure.
Do not be afraid
One thing that might be holding you back is the fear factor. This is something I have struggled with. I am competitive especially when it comes to sports, and I want to be good at yoga. I viewed yoga more as a sport that I wanted to excel at. There are people who have that attitude, and you cannot avoid that mentality. I have been a sports fanatic and have been tough on my body all my life. This is evidenced by my injury in 2015.
It does not matter if you are “good” at yoga and believe me when you are an older guy starting out; you probably aren’t going to be good. Every person is different and has different reasons for practicing. Some people are working their way back from injury, like me, so of course, that will limit what a person can do. For other people, me again, there is a big learning curve because this is something new.
The other factor that was tough for me just being honest here is the fact that 95% (that might be low) of the folks taking the class are women. It is a little bit intimidating walking into a class full of women, and you will get a look or two. However, at the end of the day, it is all good. Everyone is there with a different story and is there for different reasons.
Therefore, what I am trying to say is yes, you might be pushed out of your comfort zone, as I was, but it can be a really beautiful thing. This helps to build confidence and propel you into your practice. When you do not care what other people think, or how you compare to someone else, then you can focus on becoming better.
I do not have time for yoga
Time can be a constraint. Try practicing yoga at home with a beginner online yoga class. I know it is tough to get in the car after a long commute home, to go fight more traffic so you can “relax” during your class. I have been working on practicing at home, and even just short stints (around 30 minutes) are working well for me.
Practice at home or take a class?
You can read my yoga how-to guide to get a feel for some of the things to think about when starting a yoga practice. In that post, I discuss the pros and cons of taking a class in person, or online. A great way to start is by taking a class to get some hands-on instruction. But I have found that sometimes in a class full of people, the instruction is not always available.
Taking an online class can be really great to learn some of the basics too. You can learn from the top instructors, and do this in the comfort of your own home until you feel more confident in taking a class.
What kind of gear do I need?
Alright, I have to admit, any new activity I start, I want to have all the right gear. Well, I am a guy, and we like our gear right? Speaking of gear, check out our post on the best yoga mats if you’re looking for one.
The beginner’s post has more “kits” that come complete with a mat, blocks, etc., where the other post has individual mats which are considered higher in quality. These mats don’t come with the extras that are nice to have, like blocks, but you can always purchase those separately if you find a mat you really like.
Tips for success
With all of this being said, if you do start to take a class at a gym or studio, talk to the instructor and tell them you are new to yoga. I have had nothing but great experiences when I start off that way. Usually, the instructors are excited (or at least seem that way) to have new folks in class.
The instructor can direct you to which class would be the best place for you to start. If you have never practiced yoga before, you may want to start with Hatha, which will typically hold poses longer and have breaks in between. A vinyasa or flow class might not be the best place for you to start. So my advice is to ask.
Another tip, start in the back of the room. This may sound like you are trying to hide, but this is honestly a great place to be so that you can watch other people in the class and follow along better. That way you are not in the front row, craning your neck to see how to perform a pose.
Breathing is also super important and something to focus on getting right early on. I am still working on this one. I always find myself holding my breath and have to remember to follow the instructions and breathe appropriately.
Well, there you have it, my pitch to older men to start practicing yoga. So what do you think? Are you going to get started?
I would love to hear about any plans you have to get started practicing yoga and what your motivation is.