Yoga has the potential to be a life-long practice that supports our well-being on all levels – physical, energetic, mental, emotional and spiritual. Our needs on each of these levels can fluctuate day to day, and certainly fluctuate across our lifespan. The way we practice yoga can and must also change to support us at exactly where we are in life for it to remain a beneficial and meaningful practice.
I have been practicing yoga now for 18 years and the way I practice now is quite different from the way I began. One way is not a lesser form than the other, only different to meet my different needs and new awareness. I could still practice the way I did, and yet this would not be in honoring who I am now and what I need now.
A lot of main stream yoga focuses on the needs of young adults. These yoga practices are often more fast paced and rigorous, are predominantly physical in nature, and often do not directly bring focus to mental, emotional and spiritual components.
Whole Soul Wellness Yoga focuses on offering yoga to meet the needs of mature adults. The word mature reflects mental and emotional growth and maturity, as well as generally referring to people who are middle-aged and older. We honor and teach to the strengths of mature adults, as well as to common health challenges within this population.
Strengths of Mature Adults
An interesting study was published by the Journal of Adult Development (Wink & Dillon, 2002) in which interest in spirituality was assessed over life stages. The study found that “all participants…increased significantly in spirituality between late middle (mid-50s/early 60s) and older adulthood”, and concluded that “there thus appears to be a general tendency for individuals to become more concerned with issues of spirituality in older age.”
It seems in our experience as well that middle-aged and older adults are interested in exploring more of the subtler aspects of yoga, including practices that bring more focus to the spiritual, mental, emotional and energetic.
We focus on the cultivation of acceptance, compassion and self-care as spiritual practice – we focus on developing self-awareness and concentration as mental practices – we invite people to feel shifts and changes in emotion and energy in relation to practices – and practice in ways to help students cultivate more ease and equilibrium in their lives.
These are practices anyone of any age can explore, and yet it tends to be the mature adults who are ready and interested in these aspects of practice. They have shifted from a desire to perfect something physically and have opened the door to what is there beyond the physical.
Common Health Challenges of Mature Adults
Although people middle aged and older may have absolutely no change to their physical wellness, simply based on statistics we know that many (if not most) will have some health challenge. We endeavor to offer practices that honor, adapt for and keep students practicing in a safe and welcoming way while their bodies may be shifting and changing.
The table below provides some of the health challenges that are most common in mature adults, and health challenges that we keep in mind in how our classes are structured.
|Condition||Percent of 50–64 yo||Percent of 65+ yo|
|High Blood Pressure||37.7||58.9|
|Challenges Walking/Climbing Steps||23.8||40.3|
|Osteoporosis||19.6 (women), 4.4 (men)|
|Low Bone Density||51.5 (women), 33.5 (men)|
Source: CDC, Summary Health Statistics for Adults 2019, Osteoporosis or Low Bone Density in Older Adults: United States, 2017-2018
In future blogs I plan to spend more time talking about considerations around some of these common health challenges, how yoga practices can be beneficial, and how to ensure yoga practices are safe if you have any of these conditions.
For now I will share a few of the things we do at Whole Soul Wellness Yoga to make our practices accessible and adaptive dependent on individual needs…
- Classes are slow in pace to allow for mindful and safe transitions between postures.
- Options are provided to help individuals find pain free movement and postures.
- The focus is on what the practices feel like rather than what they look like and individuals are guided to listen to their bodies signals.
- We do not play music during our classes and we also hope to always provide clear concise guidance.
Interested in learning more about Yoga for Mature Adults? Consider joining our course on this topic beginning on September 13 – click here for more information.
If you should have any questions about whether Whole Soul Wellness Yoga is right for you or someone you know, I would be happy to chat with you about more specifics. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.