Fit at every age: The best yoga exercises for 50+
A guest article by Angelika Pauw
This is how positive yoga is for the body and mind in middle age and older
I have had the inner urge to exercise since childhood. That's why the sweaty, extremely exhausting forms of yoga used to make quite an impression on me. Today I see everything a bit more relaxed and deal with myself more patiently. After having beaten myself up in my earlier practice, I have now learned to listen to my body more. This includes the important realization that you should never take your body for granted.
These are the positive aspects of getting older
Many are put off by getting older because they associate it with loss, such as losing physical flexibility. However, getting older also brings incredibly good aspects: one beautiful phenomenon is the rise of gratitude. I am grateful that yoga came into my life and that my body still enjoys bending forward and backward. For the fact that yoga always helps me to arrive at myself, in my body, to listen to its impulses. The better I manage to do that, the more I can enjoy getting older.
The older I get, the more I appreciate my yoga practice. Because it's no longer about optimizing my body, but about freeing it. I also want to detect, accept and lovingly embrace my physical limits. Yoga strengthens both my body and my joy of life. I enjoy good times, but am no longer thrown off track by challenges. Yoga teaches me to ride the wave. It makes a lot of things more relaxed.
Why exercise is much more important than rest for 50+
Once we've passed the age of 50, many of us become true anti-aging artists: with dozens of different jars in the bathroom cabinet, among other things. But the bad consequences of aging don't lie in the way we look, but in the way we move.
It often starts around the age of fifty: the elasticity of the muscles noticeably decreases, and the first signs of wear and/or arthrosis make themselves felt. The good news is that with functional 50+Yoga training, you could avoid a lot of this. The bad news: Many people avoid doing exactly that because they are afraid of putting additional strain on their joints. However, that assumption is not correct; in fact, it's the complete opposite. Functional movement HELPS. On the one hand, it has a positive effect on the metabolism in the tissue and thus on the joint cartilage. On the other hand, the movement strengthens the muscles, which provides more stability and relief in the joints. Since yoga is a combination of stretching, mobilization, and strengthening and at the same time trains our body awareness, a regular yoga practice is highly recommended.
With the yoga videos on my YouTube channel, I want to encourage people, especially middle-aged people, to start with yoga. It is important to me to offer the postures in a way that is easy on the joints. No one should contort themselves or put themselves under pressure. The point is to experience the asanas with a loving gaze and a patient attitude toward oneself. We want to move our bodies with joy, bring ourselves into balance on all levels, and thereby find more and deeper contact with our inner selves. With mindful, regular practice, many will be surprised at what is still possible at Fifty Plus! The fact that we are getting older cannot be changed, but whether we feel old can.
These are my 7 favorite yoga exercises for 50+
#1 Yoga exercise for 50+:
Meridian stretch exercise
Come into a cross-legged seat that is comfortable for you. Sit slightly elevated on a cushion or the edge of a folded blanket. Place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand on your right knee. Now bend forward as far as it feels good for you. Let your head hang relaxed, and your shoulder blades fall apart. Feel the stretch in your back and on the outer sides of your buttocks.
Stay here for a few deep breaths, relaxing more and more. Then slowly roll up one vertebra at a time and feel for it.
#2 Yoga exercise for 50+:
Strengthening the center of the body
Come to a supine position and bring your knees over your hips so that your legs form a right angle. Now reach behind the back of your knees and lift your shoulders and head away from the floor using the strength of your abdominal muscles. Then bring your left hand to the back of your head and your right hand to your right knee. Make sure your head stays in line with your cervical spine and rests completely relaxed in your left hand. Press your sacrum, lower back, and lower rib cage firmly into your mat. Inhale.
With each exhalation, extend your left leg far to the front, and with each inhalation, consciously bring it back. Move in this way as slowly as possible for a few breaths. Then relax, pull both knees towards your chest, and enjoy the stretch in your lower back.
Now repeat the exercise on the other side.
#3 Yoga exercise for 50+:
Strengthening the back muscles and stretching the shoulder muscles
Come to the four-footed stand: wrists are under the shoulders, knees are under the hips. The fingers are spread wide. If you have sensitive knees, place a towel or blanket under your left knee. Inhaling, stretch your right leg long back at hip level and your left arm wide forward. Stay here and breathe. Now bend your right leg and grab your right ankle with your left hand. To do this, activate your abdominal muscles and pull your navel toward your spine. Then roll your left shoulder back and clench your foot into your hand to raise your shoulder even higher.
Stay here for 2-3 breaths. Then look down. Inhaling, extend your arm and leg long again, and exhaling, place your hand and knee on the floor.
Repeat the exercise on the other side.
#4 Yoga exercise for 50+:
You can begin the deep lunge from the four-footed stand or from the downward-facing dog. Place your right foot forward between your supporting hands, making sure your right knee is aligned vertically over your right ankle. If you have sensitive knees, place a towel or blanket under your left knee. Then bring your hands to your right thigh. Inhaling will straighten your torso and lift your pubic bone, allowing your pelvis to straighten nicely. The shoulders are pulling down. Exhaling, allow your pelvis to sink forward until you feel a stretch in your left thigh.
Then raise your left arm upward and come into a small backbend. Hold your left hand as if you were carrying a tray. Raise your heart and lower your chin. The neck remains relaxed and does not bend. Stay here for 3-5 breaths. With each inhalation, strive for length, and with each exhalation, settle steadily into your pelvis.
With the last exhalation, release your left hand to the floor and repeat the exercise on the other side.
#5 Yoga exercise for 50+:
The shoulder bridge
Place your feet hip-width apart on the floor near the top of your buttocks so that you can touch your heels with your fingertips. Make sure your toes and knees are pointing straight ahead. Inhaling, press your feet into the floor and, as slowly as possible, lift your pelvis off the floor. Either keep your arms on the floor beside your body or interlace your fingers under your back. Draw your shoulder blades toward each other and slide onto the outsides of your upper arms.
With each inhalation, breathe up into the upper chest. With the exhalation, raise your pelvis a little higher toward the ceiling. Feel the muscle tension in your buttocks, lower back, and back of your thighs. Stay here for three breaths.
Exhaling, slowly roll back to the floor, vertebra by vertebra.
Place your feet mat-width apart and let your knees fall together. Feel for it.
#6 Yoga exercise for 50+:
Stretching the back of the thighs
Come to a supine position and draw both knees to your chest. Then place your left foot on the floor and gently stretch your right leg upward. Hold your leg at either the back of your thigh, calf, or ankle without lifting your shoulders off the ground. Pull the top of your foot down and push your heel toward the ceiling. Tighten your abdominals slightly and press your lower back and sacrum firmly into the floor. You can optionally extend your left leg on the floor as well. Feel the stretch in the back of your right leg. Stay for a few deep breaths, and let the breath flow calmly and evenly.
Then repeat the exercise on the other side.
#7 Yoga exercise for 50+:
Come to a sitting position and extend both legs straight forward. Then place your right foot on the outside of your left knee. Either stay like this and keep your left leg extended, or, if your flexibility allows, and you want it more intense, bend your left leg so that your left foot is next to your right buttock. In both variations, the pelvis is aligned to the front.
Turn your upper body in the direction of your standing leg. Depending on your flexibility, look to the side or slightly back. Place your right hand behind your back and your left arm on your right leg. With each inhalation, you straighten your spine, and with each exhalation, you go more intensely into the rotation.
Stay for a few deep breaths, and then repeat the exercise on the other side.
Combined with deep abdominal breathing, the exercise can promote massage of the abdominal organs, aiding the digestive and cleansing aspects.
Angelika Pauw has been active in health, fitness, and yoga for 35 years. As a certified yoga teacher, personal trainer, and positive psycology consultant, she supports her yoga students of all ages and fitness levels. Angelika incorporates her experiences into her Pauwer Yoga (derived from her last name).