Ask the Doctor: Yoga Over 50

I am over 50 and am experiencing increased pain and stiffness with my spine, but find that doing a yoga class is too painful and difficult as I have never done yoga, and have not stretched on a regular basis. Are there any suggestions for getting started with regaining more flexibility?

Answer:
This is a common obstacle for many baby boomers that are somewhat deconditioned. They often find that starting a yoga class at this point is an uncomfortable experience. As a result they do not integrate a regular practice of yoga because the experience is unpleasant and they may feel self conscious. If you fall in this category I recommend starting with restorative yoga that uses folded blankets and bolsters as fulcrums to lay your body weight over in various poses. With this approach your body weight does the work and allows your body to start opening up in various plane lines of movement. It is easy, gentle, and enjoyable for almost anyone.

It is important to stretch in the plane lines of forward bending, back bending, and side bending and twisting every day. Over time your body will start to open up and become more flexible. I have pictures of how to do a restorative yoga routine in my book Renew Yourself: Keys to Rejuvenation and Youthing.

Additionally drinking a half cup of hot water every hour with a teaspoon each of coriander, fennel, and cumin in a quart thermos will help cleanse impurities in the digestive track and strengthen digestion, resulting a cleaner burn of the food, resulting in less toxic byproducts and clogging of the circulatory channels. Eating a detoxifying light diet, and fasting one day a week on warm teas, soups, and juices will also be beneficial.

I would recommend do self massage or abhyanga of body with warm sesame oil in the morning followed by a hot shower or bath. Use of the Om Gym inversion traction unit would be beneficial.

For more stubborn cases of stiffness, taking a hot Epsom salts bath before restorative yoga would make the body more pliable before the stretches. Additionally one can take the Ayurvedic formula Flexcel, available upon request by hitting the contact button on my website. I would also recommend rubbing the Ayurvedic herbal oil Joint sooth 11 on the affected joints or areas three times a day, also available upon request by contacting me.

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