Interview with Nicola Bone of Urban Bliss Yoga by Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant
To the men out there! If you knew that yoga could benefit your retirement plans and goals, would you give it a go? Whilst it seems that almost every Gen Y-er and millennial owns a yoga mat and has a favourite class, there is much trepidation surrounding yoga for many Baby Boomers. Worries abound such as how to get your body to bend like that, what to do when you enter a class, and the ultimate fear of falling asleep and snoring! Men in particular tend to be sceptical, perhaps because they worry about looking silly or a little too much in touch with their feminine side.
Before you laugh it off, can I ask you to do a quick self-assessment – how’s your quality of sleep, what’s your mobility like and how easily does your body allow you to do your everyday tasks? If you toss and turn during the night or worry about how you are going to jump in and out of that 4X4, set up the camper trailer or take long hikes in retirement, yoga might be just the thing for you!
Yoga may just seem like a lot of ‘om-ing’ in incense-filled rooms but there is so much more to it than that (and often there is no incense!). Before you assume that your body is ‘past it’ and those retirement dreams need to be curtailed, why not give yoga a go?
That sore lower back? Regularly stretching the hamstrings during a class may help with that. Tight chest and difficulty lifting your arms above your head? Yoga is great for releasing and strengthening those muscles too.
And that’s only the physical benefits. What about the psychological and wellbeing side of things?
Whilst I enjoy practising yoga, I am by no means an expert and so I was thrilled to interview Nicola Bone, yoga teacher and founder of Urban Bliss Yoga to share her knowledge and experience with you.
1. Men traditionally tend to shy away from yoga. What are the key benefits of practicing yoga, particularly for men as they approach the age of retirement?
Not only can yoga help to prepare your body for a retirement you will love to live (and tick off all those items on your bucket list), but it is also great for the mind. Approaching retirement can be a challenging time, filled with anxiety about the future, fear of the unknown and immense change. Yoga can help to combat this through an increased awareness of thoughts and feelings. Given that men have traditionally kept their thoughts and emotions bottled up, yoga and the focus on the present moment creates a safe space for acknowledging and observing these feelings and thoughts as they arise without needing to “fix”, change or supress them. Not only that but moments of stillness in the mind have been shown to alter the brain chemistry and therefore allow participants to gain perspective, especially in times of stress, turmoil or anxiety.
2. Of the men who practice yoga with you – what is their main motivator for doing so?
Most men initially come to practice for the physical benefits - mainly increased flexibility in the hamstrings, shoulder and/or chest. Over time they discover the benefits of being still, finding moments of peace and clarity within their days and weeks. Numerous men have spoken about how refreshed they feel to be in a space that allows them to let go of the ‘ego’ and tap in to their true self.
The most rewarding progress to see is a man who recognises that their worries and stress no longer serve them and they are able to let them go.
3. From your experience, what do men approaching retirement need to be mindful of when practicing yoga?
I would recommend they explore the many different disciplines of Yoga to find a class and instructor that is a good fit for them and that they enjoy. It is also important to be patient. You don’t need to be an expert from the ‘get-go’. Allow yourself to learn, knowing that your skills will develop over time.
4. What key piece of advice would you offer to men considering starting yoga?
Start. The number one thing I hear men say is, “I am not flexible enough to do yoga.” I liken this to a person who is covered in mud saying, “I am too dirty for a shower!”
5. What yoga-related resources can you share with readers?
I have a couple!
- Mobile app: Yoga Studio
- Websites: Yoga Journal or Yogi Approved
- Physical resources to support your yoga practice: trigger ball, yoga block and a yoga strap
6. Can you share an example of the benefits of yoga for the fellows out there?
A clients discovered yoga at one of our community events. His wife and daughter had convinced him to come along and he attended very reluctantly. He was absolutely shocked by the way in which he was able to focus without distraction for the entirety of the class. He shared that he felt an immense weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He now attends weekly yoga classes, enjoying both the physical benefits of increased flexibility and strength but also the mental clarity that comes with a consistent mindfulness practice. He still talks about how much of a sceptic he was when it came to yoga, but is thankful for the benefits as he approaches the final years of his working life.
Wanting to get the best out of your retirement? Why not give yoga a go!
Nicola Bone, a Brisbane high school teacher, was in the final stages of completing her Masters in Public Health when she became alarmed by the shocking statistics she was reviewing for a research project on the state of mental health amongst Australians. As Nicola looked more and more into the literature about the mental health crisis facing Australia, she was compelled to take action. After completing her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training, she organised Brisbane's first silent yoga event in the iconic urban location, King George Square which raised money for the Black Dog Institute.
Nicola is behind the start-up, Urban Bliss Yoga and strives to bring awareness to the stress, anxiety and pressure that plagues our population. She believes something needs to be done about the way our society looks at mental illness and Urban Bliss is an avid supporter of the Black Dog Institute.
If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read Why yoga is for everyone – especially those approaching retirement! and 4 people to see to plan for retirement.
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