Yoga Poses for Your 50s, 60s and 70s — and Beyond

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According to this article in AARP, It’s never too late to experience the benefits of yoga. And it can be particularly helpful for seniors to help build strength and reduce anxiety. Thirty-eight years ago, cardiologist Dean Ornish, M.D., made headlines with his claim that yoga and meditation, when combined with improvements in diet and exercise habits, could reverse heart disease. Here’s a look:

3 Reasons to Practice Yoga in Your 50s

1. Minimize hypertension

“Yoga has a powerful effect on stress and hypertension and can help people reduce the amount of medication they need,” says Amy Wheeler, yoga professor at California State University at San Bernardino. In a review of 17 studies published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers reported significant reductions in blood pressure for interventions incorporating three basic elements of yoga practice: postures, meditation, and breathing. Researchers speculate that the slow, controlled breathing inherent in yoga practice decreases nervous system activity, which helps manage blood pressure levels.

2. Strengthen bones

“People in their 50s often develop the beginning stages of osteoporosis and low bone density,” notes Melinda Atkins, a yoga teacher in Miami. Studies consistently show that the weight-bearing activity of yoga helps slow bone thinning, reducing the risks of osteoporosis, particularly among postmenopausal women.

3. Keep excess pounds at bay

Yoga enhances concentration and determination in all aspects of life. Practicing it every day “improves willpower and shifts your focus toward wellness rather than instant gratification,” says Larry Payne, yoga director at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. In a 2014 study out of India, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers reported that people with diabetes who did yoga 3-6 days per week for 8 weeks, shed more pounds and inches than those who walked for the same time period.