Along with the smile lines and grey hair, ageing brings changes that are harder to see but very easy to feel, especially during movement. As you age, you’ll encounter general physiological changes in elasticity, stability, speed, strength, and endurance, as well as a different perspective on physical goals.
Specific health problems emerge as we age, and these age-related illnesses might affect your yoga practice. Here, we offer our thoughts on how to modify your practice for these common ailments, and we detail the ways that (in some cases) yoga can actually relieve symptoms or has been proven to improve medical outcomes.
From heart issues to less lung capacity, decreased bone density to hormonal changes, and bad backs to artificial knees, physical changes will affect and dictate the needs of a yoga asana practice, but in all cases, doing yoga will make you feel better. As you age, your body becomes less flexible, less stable, slower, weaker, and less competitive in endurance. With age, you lose elasticity in muscle, fascia, and (as you can see in a mirror) skin. This results in generally less flexibility, which can translate to instability and stiffness.
Sarcopenia (muscle loss) and osteopenia (bone loss) are common aspects of ageing. Both can contribute to less strength, speed, and endurance. While it does get harder to build muscle with age, it’s not impossible, and it’s never too late. Exercise and yoga help you maintain the muscle mass you have and continue to add more. Whether you suffer from osteopenia may have as much to do with genetics and gender as it does with your physical activity level, but movement and weight-bearing exercises keep bones healthier for longer.
This information probably doesn’t come as a surprise, though; we tend to be well versed in the changes that come with ageing, especially as we get older. The good news is that you also have all the attendant wisdom, confidence, and life experience of your years on earth. And let’s be honest: while it might be nice to still have the body of a twenty-one-year-old, we know few people who actually want to be twenty-one again.
Besides, the news gets even better: while age does affect you in various ways, much of it is in your hands, and there’s a lot you can do to limit the effect of age-related changes. Yoga is an excellent anti-ageing tool. And it doesn’t matter where you’re starting from or at what age you begin—movement and yoga can help.