The saying, 'life begins at 40', has never been more true as we continue to see exponential increases in how long people are living as well as the retirement age and a shift in what is considered to be 'old age'.
The number of people aged 65 and over is projected to rise to more than *16 million in the next seventeen years and *the number of centenarians living in the UK has risen by a phenomenal seventy two per cent. We are simply living longer.
I am seeing as many students in their 30s and 40s as I do people in their 20s. And almost as many again who are 50+. More older people are embracing something new by taking up a hot yoga or yoga practice - and they're reaping the health and wellbeing benefits.
Keeping that circulation moving
As we get older it's common to experience symptoms related to bad circulation as we tend to move less or with less vigour. Hot yoga is really effective at bringing this movement back into our bodies. Not only because it is practiced in 42 degree heat, but the mindful breathing used in yoga and the physical movement, pumps heat into our body's circulatory system.
Keeping ourselves supple
The stretches, movement and breathing within yoga practice allows us to stretch our muscles, keep our joints healthy and even have an effect on our internal organs. The comforts - and often the discomforts - of our modern lifestyles, like driving instead of walking, sitting on the sofa watching television for long periods or sitting at a desk in front of a computer, have really restricted our body's natural range of movement. By the time we reach old age, the effects are very noticeable.
Yoga is also not just for 'bendy' people. Simple stretches and going as far as what is right for you, will improve your flexibility. The heated environment in hot yoga warms the muscles, which helps movement within your practice.
Mindful movement and healthy minds
Trips and falls cause serious injury in older people. Hot yoga teaches us mindfulness in the way we move in our daily lives, makes us more aware of our bodies and improves our balance. The physical movement and the meditative aspect of yoga practice also brings energy to the mind and can deliver stress release.
Attending a guided yoga class also means meeting people and being part of the community. This can make such a difference to how we feel, remembering that living longer doesn't just mean existing longer.
Keeping teachers flexible
The influx of older yoga students is also changing the way in which we teach. In my experience, the older students tend to be present with injury and as teachers we have to ensure that stretches, poses and movement take these into account. The effects of our modern lifestyles on our bodies and an ageing population mean yoga instructors have to embrace new challenges and change how and what we teach.
So perhaps it might be truer to say that by keeping active and supple, life begins at whatever age you want! Namaste.