Guest Writer: Why Seniors Should Give Yoga a Try and How to Get Started on Your Journey

Yoga is an ancient spiritual and physical practice that can be very beneficial to not only martial artists but also people of any age or physical ability. Guest writer Harry Cline shares his thoughts on how yoga can benefit seniors. If you want to check out more of Harry’s work please visit newcaregiver.org: The New Caregiver’s Comprehensive Resource: Advice, Tips, and Solutions from Around the Web.

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For decades, people of all ages have turned to yoga to give a boost to their mind, body, and spirit. A truly special form of meditative exercise, yoga is beloved by everyone from the casual to the hardcore athlete. Seniors can see great benefits from yoga, as it is a low-impact activity that strengthens muscles, bones, and tendons without risking the joint degradation seen in those who are involved in high-impact exercises. Not only that, but yoga can help seniors in a few other surprising ways. Keep reading to learn more.
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Turning Lemons Into Limoncello

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Last week I took the second worst yoga class of my nineteen-year practice. Taking yoga at gyms rather than a traditional yoga studio has always been a crapshoot. I have had some incredible teachers over the years. I have also had some who weren’t great. Thankfully I learned enough from the incredible teachers to recognize the difference. Although it was a pitiful class, it offered a great learning experience in patience, self-reliance, and making the best of a disappointing situation.
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Loving Your Body, Pain and All

lego pain scale

Yesterday morning as I strolled down the galley of cubicles to get a cup of tea in the break room I had the sensation of a very uncomfortable air bubble in my left hip flexor. Strange. I didn’t notice any extraordinary pain or discomfort in Monday night’s taekwondo class. I thought I had popped all the kinks out with a 5 AM swim. For a split second I thought, “Oh great, now my left hip is acting up.”
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Turn Your World Upside Down

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Duuuuuuuuuuuuuude….

Tonight in yoga class I did a headstand for the first time since I was in my mid-twenties….sort of. About halfway through class our teacher did a mini-workshop on the pose, which he had promised us after a request in last week’s class. He walked us through the process, emphasizing that no matter how good you get, you should always follow the steps to ensure safety.
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Spar Though Your Heart Is Breaking

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If I had abs like that I’d never stop smiling.

At the end of Tuesday night’s yoga class we quietly transitioned from savasna to the fetal position. Throughout the hour our teacher encouraged us to go big, take life, and when necessary, let go. “You can breathe through the tension, smile in discomfort, and use strength you didn’t know you had,” he said before summoning us to sit up. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. I have had to face discomfort and uncertainty and tap into a strength I didn’t know I had. I’ve had to let go.
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So Just Chill Till the Next Episode

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“To surrender,” my yoga teacher said as he looked around the dark room at our upturned faces, “you sometimes first have to build heat.”

It was my first yoga class in about a month. When asked about my long absence I gave the ubiquitous answer of “I had things going on” with a Robert De Niro-esque shrug. I did have things going on (laundry doesn’t fold itself), but that wasn’t the entire answer.
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Back to Basics

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“Can we do other asana [yoga poses] besides just upward dog, downward dog all the time?” chirped an older woman right as our instructor had settled us into our first child’s pose in this morning’s yoga class. I’m not very fond of this woman. She is sour and cranky and doesn’t have much respect for other people’s personal space. (She once sandwiched her mat between me and the woman next to me when there was plenty of room around us. I practically had my foot in her face until I moved.) On the surface she seemed to be complaining about the sequence my teacher used every class. It’s a vinyasa style built on the sun salutations A and B sequences, which include a lot of upward and downward dogs. Unlike other teachers I’ve had he rarely varies from his routine and instead challenges us to be present and heighten our awareness of how our bodies feel in the poses.
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Power Trip

HeMan
Powerful AND fabulous!

“Stand in your power!” my favorite yoga teacher likes to shout at us during warrior II. I always like to sneak a glance around the darkened room and see people narrow their eyes, purse their lips, and crouch deeper with determination into the pose. He often accompanies that command with the thought that how we approach the mat is how we approach life. We pour our confidence, self-worth, and self-love (or lack thereof) into not only our yoga practice but into our vocations, our interests,our relationships, and how we present ourselves to the world.

The theme resurfaced in a recent taekwondo class.
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Practicing Ahimsa While Kneeing Someone in the Gut — Reconciling Taekwondo with Yoga

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Warrior I asana with fists of fury.

My introduction to yoga was a class called “Get Centered” during my first semester as a college freshman. The instructor was a tiny bird of a woman with hippie white girl dreadlocks and a voice like a dark, cool, quiet bedroom. I was hooked. Yoga has accompanied me through years of education, career growth, relationship struggles and joys, financial independence, and emotional maturity. Even when I skipped class for months and didn’t give yoga much thought it was always in the background patiently waiting for me to come back.

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