Health Focus: Why yoga is for everyone – especially those approaching retirement!

By Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant

One of the joys of moving into retirement is having more time to do the things that you’ve always wanted to, rather than what you have to do. What this means, however, is actually getting out there any joining a new activity. For some (usually the extroverts amongst us) that is not a problem at all, for others this can create a sense of anxiousness – e.g. ‘will I be any good’, ‘what if I’m the oldest in the class’ and ‘how will I know what to do’? If yoga is on your ‘to do’ list, then read on!

 This week’s blog continues the focus on health and well-being and following the insights from personal trainer Gemma Cuskelly last week, I am thrilled to introduce Marita Nicholson, Tullamore yoga instructor.

 Marita Nicholson, Yoga Instructor shares advice for women planning for retirement and considering taking up yoga.

Marita not only attended a yoga class for the first time in her mid-forties, but went even further and enacted a career change, becoming a yoga instructor. She proves that it’s true – you can make a successful career change at any stage in life! With her children off to college and creating their own life adventures, Marita realised that with more time available for herself she needed to find an interest, a pursuit that would keep her healthy, active and connected to people around her.

She initially joined a hill walking group and when someone suggested she try yoga, she figured ‘why not’. As a beginner she started attending weekly classes which through the enjoyment and clear health benefits became twice weekly. At one point a teacher training diploma was advertised and her family encouraged her to enrol. Her first response was ‘absolutely not (!), maybe next year’, however, she found that the program was offered only every four years. It was with some reluctance that she enrolled with the intent of completely it just for herself rather than actually teaching classes, however, friends were keen to learn yoga and interest grew from there. She now teaches a regular class each week in Tullamore, Ireland.

For Marita yoga is not simply a regular class, but rather a lifestyle and one that continues to evolve. The benefits of yoga are not only physically such as the increased flexibility and strength, but internal also. There is an emphasis on breathing and self-awareness – understanding your body and your mind’s response to the events around you, and the time removed from the busyness of life is re-energising.

Marita shares her advice and learnings, debunking the myth that yoga is a young person’s pursuit only!

What do people approaching the age of retirement typically need to be mindful of when practicing yoga?

Yoga is very much an individual pursuit and so it is important to discourage people being competitive. We all need to tune into our own bodies and become aware of our limits and know what is comfortable for us.

You don’t need to be particularly flexible nor fit to practice yoga.  Participants in my classes tend to range from 30 to 65 years and whilst some are very agile, others are not at all. I encourage the use of props where appropriate as a variation of every posture can be done with an aid. I’ve even taught yoga in chairs!

 What key advice would you offer to those considering starting yoga?

 Yoga - enhancing not only physical wellbeing but mental wellbeing, something which is particularly important for women as they prepare andstep into retirement.

Check the type of yoga class that you are signing up for as there are many types, some more strenuous than others. In the classes that I teach, the focus is on mental as well as physical well-being and will always include a body and mental scan, encouraging participants to know their body and become attuned to identifying and responding when something is ‘not quite right’.

Be sure to find a qualified teacher, one who will guide you safely and one that you respond positively to.

 

Can you share an example of the benefits of yoga?

I had a recently widowed lady join a class. Initially she attended as something to do and quickly became one of my most faithful students. She regularly tells me that she has the most wonderful sleep each night after a yoga class. Additionally, she is an asthmatic and has found that her breathing has improved. Previously she needed to rest between poses and now seems to be more energetic. I have also observed that through meditation she now appears to be happier in her own company and not afraid to be on her own. These positive changes did not occur happen overnight but rather evolved through regular practice and over time.

 

What is one great health and well-being tip or resource that you can share?

www.yogajournal.com is a website which shares everything you need to know about yoga from a novice’s introduction to advanced advice about every type of yoga imaginable! There are videos and factsheets to learn class etiquette and new poses and each demonstration includes the beginner variation.

If yoga is one of those activities that you have been wanting to try, why not take action now? As Marita has shared, you can rest assured knowing there is a class just right for you!

About Marita

 Marita Nicholson, Yoga Instructor, shares advice for women planning for retirement and considering a new career move or developing a new skill - it's never too late!

For the past 2 years Marita has taught a hatha yoga class with a mix of styles.  A typical class will start with a centring/ concentration practise, followed by pranayama, asana, calming practice and finally relaxation.  Her classes are suitable for mixed ability and she uses props and adaptations to assist. Her four year teacher training course was with the Irish Yoga Association and her qualification is recognised by the European Union of Yoga.   Marita currently teaches a class once a week but intend to add more when time allows.  She has also been involved as Treasurer with the Irish Yoga Association for the past two years.


For more about health and well-being, stay tuned for next week's blog when I share advice from Sunshine Coast GP Dr Ruth Nash. There are so many great services and programs offered by GPs to people approaching retirement (which you may not yet know about), and the best thing - many of them are free!


If you approaching retirement or starting to think about it, and worried about the "what's next', wondering:

  • How to prevent slowing down too soon and getting old before your time
  • How you’ll stay relevant and connected to people
  • What to do with the amazing skills, energy and ideas you have

you may be interested in downloading your copy of the Retirement Planning Questionnaire or checking out the the bite-sized videos and tipsheets on the Resources page.