A year ago, Yoga teacher Barbara Ferdy, who has a high percentage of Silver Greys in her Yoga classes, wrote about the benefits of Yoga for people at this time of life. Among her students is Betty Warner, whom we interviewed at the age of 78 and who spoke about the many benefits she felt from doing Yoga even having begun at as late an age as 71.
Now the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services' National Institue of Health, has funded a study into the physical demands on older adults associated with seven commonly practiced Yoga poses. The intention of the study is to help design yoga programmes with particular clinical goals as their aims. According to the NCCAM, the "physical demands, efficacy and safety of yoga for older adults has not been well studied, and older adults are at higher risk of developing musculoskeletal problems such as strains and sprains when doing yoga."
Researchers from the University of Southern California’s Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy and the University of California, Los Angeles used biomechanical methods to measure the physical demands of hatha yoga in 20 older adults (6 men and 14 women) over 32 weeks during the performance of seven standing poses commonly taught in senior yoga classes: Chair, Wall Plank, Tree, Warrior II, Side Stretch, Crescent, and One-Legged Balance.
The researchers found that musculoskeletal demand varied significantly across the different poses. They noted that this study is a first step in the design of more tailored, evidence-based yoga programs that address individual-specific training and rehabilitation goals in seniors.
Of course Yoga also has a spiritual aspect and that is not approached in this study, but even the purely physical side of Yoga has benefits that will only improve quality of life for practitioners, and will make up a valuable part of a well-balanced exercise regime for those wanting to continue their sports into Silver Grey-ness.