Yoga in Western society is largely seen as one dominated by women. Indeed, I’ve seen statistics which say that 80% of yoga practitioners are women under the age of 40. It is easy for aging men to feel somewhat intimidated in attending yoga classes where young women seem able to adeptly contort themselves.
However, yoga is for everyone. Men are starting to see the benefits of practicing yoga. I began exploring yoga three years ago with the result of better health. Men do have needs that are different than women – our physique and aging processes are different. In helping me understand a man’s journey through yoga, I found a Facebook page called Yoga For Men. It explores the world of yoga from a man’s view.
The conversation on the Facebook page recently turned to whether someone over 55 could start practicing yoga. More specifically, whether yoga could help with weight maintenance. The responses were amazing. Everyone cited that yoga helped with weight gain because of increased activity and increased awareness of what you were eating. Yoga teaches mindfulness which means being present in the moment and understanding the consequences of your actions.
Here are a few quotes:
“I tried yoga 30 years ago, but only practiced seriously about age 58. Now 65 and in yoga teacher training. It’s the main form of exercise keeping me healthy. My weight issues relate to what goes in my mouth, but daily yoga keeps weight down.”
“I am 61 and started my practice 18 months ago. Prior to starting, I embarked on a dietary change and dropped from 248 lbs to 215 lbs. Through yoga and Ayurvedic eating, I now weigh 185 lbs and feel better than I can remember. Just completed my 200 hour training. It is never too late to start.”
“At 72 years old, I can say that yoga is essential – just know how far to go. Adjust diet, activity and raise your expectations. Until you are 90, you are a young man – why be constrained by society’s expectation based purely on anno domini.”
Although their physical form changed, most talked about a change in outlook too. Yoga helped their awareness and focus of mind, body and soul. It has let them sync up and love themselves enough to care about being healthy. The important lessons from these participants are to find a yoga practice or teacher that suits you and your physical needs. In other words be kind to yourself and keep a steady pace.