This article was originally published at OlderBeast, whose mission is to help 45+ guys “double down” on body-and-soul health for the 2nd half of their life.
I confess. I’m not always as proactive and purposeful as OlderBeast articles make me sound. When it comes to fitness, I’ve often just learned from injury-driven needs that motivated experimentation, or by simply lucking into things.
When I started yoga at age 46, it wasn’t because I’d thoughtfully concluded “hey, I have some ‘need yoga’ signs.” I started just because yoga’s a weekly part of the P90X home fitness program. Luck. (Online yoga classes are actually a great place to start – more on that at the conclusion of this article).
I see in retrospect that, as my 40s progressed, my fitness needs were changing. I had many of the “Need Yoga” signs, but I didn’t recognize them. Now, with regular yoga as part of my fitness routine, I’ve turned a lot of these “Need” categories into positives.
My goal with this list is to help you do a self-assessment, and possibly reach a yoga conclusion sooner than I did (or if not, then at least “better late than never.”)
SIX SIGNS YOU NEED YOGA
Got any of these “Need Yoga” signs? If you answer “yes” for one or more items, then I urge you to give yoga a try.
I don’t mean a big dramatic vow to do it super-often or forever. Just try it at least several times over a 6-12 weeks period and see if it’s for you. At the bottom of this article, I’ve pointed to a simple and practical way you can get going on this trial run.
1. You don’t get much Core work in your current workout routine.
By “core work,” I’m not just talking about a few crunches here and there, man. I mean substantial exercise of all the muscles – front, sides and back – that run from your upper legs to your lower chest. If you’re routinely doing various sit-up’s, planks, side bends, superman’s, leg lifts and twists…OK, fair enough. Skip to the next item. But if you’re not, yoga is a great way to bring all this into your fitness mix, without an extensive standalone “core routine.”
2. You’ve got nagging aches and pains in your back…or knee…or shoulders…or…etc.
We all feel those aches and pains and realize we’re not 25 anymore. The question is, what are you gonna do about them? Yoga is a way to rest aching body parts while still getting a workout. Even better, in many cases, yoga’s benefits help overcome the underlying weak areas or muscle imbalances that cause pain and injury. This has been documented for backs, shoulders and numerous other common problem areas.
3. You’re not very flexible…and it’s getting worse.
Yoga increases flexibility without dedicating extra time to a “stretching routine.” I’m not just talking about touching your toes, either. More importantly, yoga helps keep your spine limber. This impacts all facets of how you move. And how you look, too (let’s avoid that “stiff old guy” posture and way-of-walking for as long as possible, brother). Ironically, one objection to yoga many guys have is “I’m not flexible enough.” If someone told you, “I don’t do push-ups because my arms and chest aren’t strong enough”…wouldn’t you say that’s a reason to do push-ups? Same with yoga and flexibility.
4. You don’t have anything in your fitness routine that works on balance.
Sure, a lack of balance is dangerous once you’re elderly. But long before that, poor balance is a symptom that the smaller muscles at various points around your body – the ones that help you balance – are being under-used. If you’re losing your ability to balance, that’s the same as saying you’re getting weaker and less athletic, man. Probably more susceptible to injury, too. Sign me up for the opposite of that – it’s called yoga.
5. You know you need to work on all-over strength more.
Yeah, weights or body weight routines are great for strength. But…it takes a lot of dedication to get benefits all over your body. And, many runners, cyclists, or swimmers just don’t feel like doing the strength work (I’ve been in that camp before). Yoga works leg, core, back, shoulder and arm strength (not so much biceps, so do a few curls if you need to). It doesn’t build muscle size much, granted. But if you’re looking for a baseline level of functional strength…yoga is a great part of the solution. If “yoga” and “strength” seem like the two halves of an oxymoron – go try an advanced yoga class and then see if you feel the same way, macho man.
6. You’re not getting full stress management benefits from your current workout routine.
In the modern world, we all should welcome every bit of stress management help we can get. And research shows certain types of exercise are great at lowering stress – both the mental/emotional aspects of it, and in fact the underlying chemical causes of it. Yoga reduces stress hormones and increases feel-good ones, lowers blood pressure and pulse rate, and leaves you feeling refreshed. How many gym workouts or fast-paced fitness classes leave you feeling that way? Running and yoga are the two stress-management champs.
OK, time for some honesty with yourself. Do any of the six items above apply to you? Four years ago, I was pretty close to six-for-six (in a bad way). So why not give yoga a try for yourself?
Online classes from someplace like ManFlow Yoga are a great place to start, because they let you try and start learning without worrying about “how you’ll look” or “if it will be too weird” in a yoga studio.
After a while, you’ll be confident enough to progress to also try in-person classes at a studio, which also have major benefits including individualized instruction from an instructor who can see and guide you.
But no matter where you choose to start, if you take an inventory using this list and find an unmet need…well, start meeting it, man. Give yoga a try as your way to do that.
Take Care of Yourself, with More Perspectives Like This
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Mark Teitell is a 50-ish guy on a mission to keep getting fitter, healthier, happier. He’s the Founder & Host of OlderBeast, a site with practical and inspirational content, tools & services, and community to help 45+ men “double down” on body-and-soul health for the 2nd half of life.