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Why Does Yoga Seem More Difficult?

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You used to enjoy yoga, but it seems more difficult as you grow older. If so, it may be a good time to reassess your practice in light of the realities of an aging body. Beginning in our 40s and 50s, our bodies gradually lose resilience. Muscle fibers contract, motor neurons decline in number and soft-tissue extensibility decreases. In short, we naturally become less able to flex, extend, bend and contort our bodies.

As for that difficult yoga, “difficult” compared to what? If you are returning to yoga after a long hiatus, do not use past performance to gauge your present ability. Your muscles may remember the asanas, but they will not go there as easily and should not be expected to.

If you have been practicing consistently and find that what bolstered you in the past seems not to work as well today, discuss your concerns with your yoga teacher, your physician and/or us. And if you have been practicing solo, resuming yoga classes may help you to make beneficial adjustments.

For one thing, consider Iyengar, a less vigorous yoga instruction that focuses on alignment and uses props to assist in stretching. Elements of safe yoga practice include

     • A qualified teacher;

     • Realistic expectations, based on age and health;

     • A noncompetitive attitude;

     • Awareness of limitations and injury-prone areas; and

     • Patience with progress (and with healing, if you get hurt).

There is plenty of evidence that, when approached mindfully and with realistic expectations, yoga offers many health benefits for people of all ages. Also, feel free to ask for other exercise alternatives if you desire a different exercise experience. The key remains getting regular exercise.

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