If someone were to mention the word “yoga,” one generally would think of young, able-bodied people twisting their bodies into seemingly impossible pretzels. But, two local yoga studio owners said that yoga could be practiced during any time in one’s life – even when that person isn’t as limber as before.
According to Darcy Providente, co-owner of Chagrin Yoga in Chagrin Falls, those in the baby boomer generation could really use yoga in ways that could improve the quality of life – mentally and physically.
“Yoga not only relaxes you, but also supports repairing the upper respiratory system,” Providente said. “It also can repair muscle tissue, keep tendons supple and prevents the body from experiencing atrophy.”
Providente said that her best recommendation for baby boomers that want to start yoga is to keep their bodies limber by moving around. Since yoga involves very specific movements and breaths, it’s best to practice breathing exercises at home to get in the mindset. For baby boomers that are in their 60s, the recommendation is they start these activities in a professional space, especially following an accident.
“People are really broken sometimes after accidents and yoga has many responses to their needs,” Providente said. “The best recommendation for participants over 60 is to let their doctor give them permission to attend a yoga exploration class or a gentle slow flow class. They can even try chair yoga.
“Out of all of our weekly classes, 25-30 of those classes are slow-flow classes. As participants progress, they can move into more challenging classes. All ages can do all types of yoga. We just like to start older people in slower classes, so they don’t hurt themselves, get discouraged and never come back.”
One of the biggest setbacks baby boomers face when getting involved in physical activity is that some are afraid they may look silly and shy away from trying something they are unfamiliar with.
“Why wait until you feel too sick to try something to make you feel more like yourself? The hardest part is walking into the studio,” Providente said. “The feeling of looking silly or not good enough comes from our inner ego. (The instructors) guide you and take pride in placing you in the correct class.”
Bert van Beers, co-owner of Confluence Cycle in Cleveland Heights, agreed that people tend to shy away from yoga because of the unfamiliarity, especially since his studio also incorporates cycling with yoga.
“Baby boomers start to slow down when they get close to retirement. (Yoga) is an activity where there is something for everyone,” van Beers said. “It can be passive or restorative and can help participants attain a calm and clear mental state.”
Not only can yoga be a restorative practice for baby boomers, van Beers said that many people are turned off when he suggests adding cycling to a yoga routine, because one is a high-energy workout and the other is calming and relaxing.
“Cycling and yoga are a natural pairing. It’s like a yin and yang,” van Beers said. “My wife and I are lifelong cyclists relatively new to yoga. By pairing the strength of cycling and the calming and stretching of yoga, most people have an epiphany on how well they work together in repairing the body.
“Baby boomers may notice they are starting to slow, but the human body is capable of repairing itself. A client recently gave feedback that she was going to have knee surgery and was looking to stabilize her knee functions. She was able to cancel her procedure because of the maintenance routine of yoga.”
Van Beers and Providente agreed that it doesn’t hurt to try yoga as one ages, especially if it can improve quality of life.
“I’m sure that if you try yoga with an open mind, you’ll like it,” van Beers said. “As a cyclist, I always knew there was something about yoga, but I was unsure. Just give it a chance. (Yoga) has been around for thousands of years and if there was nothing to rave about, it wouldn’t have lasted through time.”
Becky Rapse is a freelance writer from Cleveland.