When does the Senior phase begin in our Western world?

And can one start practicing yoga even at this stage of life? Today, sports, culture, the resources of cosmetic surgery, and increased attention to the quality of what we eat and choose to do have extended the youth phase into maturity, and welcome!!! So many people, even more than adults, are attracted to Yoga, generally to feel better physically and be more relaxed. Images of beautiful, young, strong bodies engaged in postures so intertwined and challenging that one wonders if it will be possible to loosen up that posture and return to normal standing, may both discourage and tickle those who have the curiosity to approach Yoga. One must be realistic! After the age of 40, with rare exceptions, arthrosis sets in, natural processes! The limits of advancing age are related to the decrease in range of motion and joint flexibility, condition of the muscular and skeletal system, physical strength, balance. Basically, vital energy slows down and decreases.

Here, after the depressing information, there is the good news:
Research*1 has shown that the regular practice of Yoga, (minimum twice a week), is perhaps the only activity that can be continued throughout life, even if physical issues arise. It generally
preserves and improves all functions: physiological, from balancing metabolic values, to the health of the ‘cardiovascular system (blood pressure, respiratory capacity, bowel function). It facilitates the recovery of joint space, hyaluronic acid production and flexibility of the Dorsal Spine. All the body’s emunctory organs, that is, which provide cleansing (skin, kidneys, intestines, liver and lungs), are stimulated. In this way body and mind regain or increase brilliance, energy, vitality, The synchrony Mind, Breath Movement works on the Nervous System influencing behavior patterns, urging pleasure in the relationship with oneself and self-esteem in discovering new ways of moving and feeling, lighter and more agile. In particular, metabolism is kept active, with a very positive fallout both in regaining or staying at the right physical weight and on sexual vitality, male and female.
The pleasure is also social, in the relationship with the teacher and with the group with whom one shares the experience of Yoga, without antagonism but in healthy competition with oneself in the conquest of ever greater inner and outer well-being.
Especially in the United States, numerous studies have been conducted on Yoga in the so-called Third Age, which confirm what I learned in India: from the perspective of traditional Yoga culture.
The breakdown of the stages of life seems to be very clear.
There are four stages of the human being’s life:

0 to 20 years, is the stage of discovery and experimentation, in which the dynamic and pushing
practices of Astanga Vinyasa Yoga are indicated. While remembering that Yoga is a spiritual evolutionary path, in these years one can dare to approach forms in which one tries to go beyond one’s physical limit. Always with intelligence but one can sow all kinds of seeds to see if they will be able to grow and develop. Everything is experience and that is fine!
From 20 to 40 years, it is the right time to nurture what has been planted. These are the years when one builds up, in every sphere, social, work, family, love.
In Yoga you deepen the experience by applying:

abhyasa*2 (the constant and continued physical exertion)
vairagya (detachment, absence of desire)
Sadhana (a movement from where we are now, to a new place of realization)

In essence, it is effective deep change that requires effort and intention.
From 40 to 60 years, one is concerned with maintaining and consolidating what one has built. The experience gained should give us the ability to recognize who we are and what we can leave to
those who will come after us. In the practice of Yoga, it means knowing how to carefully evaluate
the practices to be performed to maintain the state of health and vitality and above all to begin to select what is really right for my body and mind. In Yoga we do not stretch, stretching is good for human tissues, but rather we continuously expand in body, heart, and mind.
It is essential to bring attention to maintaining flexibility, recovering space in the joints, preserving muscle tone and sense of balance, In the practice it is necessary to always introduce moments of
pause and listening. At this stage it is relevant to find adaptations, under the guidance of an experienced teacher (I mean with a minimum of 10 years of practice in teaching and many more in his or her personal path). The Yoga teacher should know Yoga Chikitsa thoroughly: the term basically translates as Yogatherapy. While Yoga is not a therapy, nor can a Yoga teacher take the place of a health professional figure.

Yoga tools can prove very effective in preserving and improving health: realigning the spine,
eliminating toxins, increasing stability and strength, practicing with the knowledge that Yoga acts on the Nervous System, and the general use of Asanas to restore and/or maintain body/mind balance.
From 60 onward, one prepares to let go of everything….This is the time when one becomes
increasingly devoted to the spiritual dimension and detachment from everything material.
Sometimes in India, people of this age leave work and family and retreat to the forest. This
appears very far from our reality. In essence, it does not mean that the body is set aside; on the contrary, it becomes more and more a valuable conduit to the flow of life energy.
What was said for the previous phase continues, in the care to select what one chooses to do.
Much more time is spent on breath practices, Pranayama *3 , Pranadhara *4 ,Meditation, *5 Deep Relaxation *6 , etc. All this shows that, the so-called Third Age, is a particularly right stage, even to start from scratch to practice Yoga, indeed, one should…. If we add to this the concept of Viniyoga,
*7 i.e., Yoga must adapt to you and not you to Yoga, we understand that it can be practiced by anyone, in any condition and at any age, with the right methodology and approach.
What matters is the intention to embark on a wonderful journey in relationship with ourselves and
the world, which if we are passionate about it, will never end. A few years ago, a famous Western practitioner, singer Sting, when interviewed about why he practiced Yoga, replied, among other things…. to grow old gracefully.
I find it a wonderful expression that contains a world. There is grace in self-care, that self that seeks to hold in upright posture a center of gravity placed in body and heart. There is grace in not giving in to neglect of one’s physical dimension, of wanting to feel good about oneself and others, continuing to take daily care of personal hygiene, clothing, language, conversation, the atmosphere of home and affections. There is extraordinary grace in not keeping one’s gaze only
on oneself, complaining about one’s small and large ailments, but continuing to keep it open,
attentive and loving on the world. Yoga practiced intelligently and with the right teacher opens
one up to all this.
Now I would like to give some practical suggestions both to those who, no longer very young, want to start and perhaps come from sports but want to try to integrate something else, and to those who come from the couch at home:

1)Practice gets you to where you are now and it is very important to start there. In the United
States, where there has been a big increase in practitioners over 50, there has also been a
corresponding increase in injuries in this very age group. It is therefore important to approach more complex postures, gradually or adaptively, and in some cases even avoid them, to make room for the countless other possibilities that Yoga offers.

2)Choose a style that suits you and makes you feel better, physically and mentally. There are people for whom predominantly yang style is more suitable, that is, warming, activating, appealing more to the sympathetic SNS. Other styles are defined as more Yin, so more static, relaxing and refreshing that stimulate the Parasympathetic SN. In my experience the practice should strike a proper balance of both aspects, in media virtus. In any case, the approach is to
maintain curiosity and the desire to get involved, to explore even one’s own no comfort zone,
especially mentally. Enthusiasm and constancy in the chosen approach is important, persevering for an appropriate amount of time, without jumping from one class and one teacher to another: in yoga, as in all valid practices, continuity and constancy is essential.

3)try several teachers but choose one who is experienced and well prepared, with whom you feel
you can establish a positive relationship. The teacher must have had life experience and many
years of teaching that brings expertise, not information learned in a six-month course. He/she
must know the body’s changes, limitations and resources. And he must
be able to establish a relationship through a creative ability to offer teaching combined with contagious positivity.

4) if you have specific issues talk to your doctor and then to your teacher who can help you find the right fit and appropriate help for your issue, rather than making it worse…


I have already talked about this extensively……

Bibliography 1. Tummers N, Hendrick F. older adults say yes to yoga. National Recreation and Park Association; 2006. 2. Young at Heart – Tips for Older adults. National Institutes of Health; 20023. Chodzko-Zajko WJ, Proctor DN, Fiatarone Singh MA, Minson CT, Nigg CR, et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and physical activity for older adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41:1510–1530. 4. Greendale GA, Huang MH, Karlamangla AS, Seeger L, Crawford S. Yoga decreases kyphosis in senior women and men with adult-onset hyperkyphosis: results of a randomized controlled trial. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009;57:1569–1579. 5. Macrae PG, Lacourse M, Moldavon R. Physical Performance-Measures That Predict Faller Status in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1992;16:123–128. 6. Rogers MW, Mille ML. Lateral stability and falls in older people. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2003;31:182–187. 7. Oken BS, Zajdel D, Kishiyama S, Flegal K, Dehen C, et al. Randomized, controlled, six-month trial of yoga in healthy seniors: effects on cognition and quality of life. Altern Ther Health Med. 2006;12:40–4 8. Schmid AA, Van Puymbroeck M, Koceja DM. Effect of a 12-week yoga intervention on fear of falling and balance in older adults: a pilot study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2010;91:576–583. 9. Zettergren KK, Lubeski JM, Viverito JM. Effects of a yoga program on postural control, mobility, and gait speed in community-living older adults: a pilot study. J Geriatr Phys Ther. 2011;34:88–94. 10. Chen KM, Tseng WS, Ting LF, Huang GF. Development and evaluation of a yoga exercise programme for older adults. J Adv Nurs. 2007;57:432–441. 11. Chen KM, Chen MH, Hong SM, Chao HC, Lin HS, et al. Physical fitness of older adults in senior activity centres after 24-week silver yoga exercises. J Clin Nurs. 2008;17:2634–2 12. Chen KM, Tseng WS. Pilot-testing the effects of a newly-developed silver yoga exercise program for female seniors. J Nurs Res. 2008;16:37–46. 13. Chen KM, Fan JT, Wang HH, Wu SJ, Li CH, et al. Silver yoga exercises improved physical fitness of transitional frail elders. Nurs Res. 2010;59:364–370. 14. Fan JT, Chen KM. Using silver yoga exercises to promote physical and mental health of elders with dementia in long-term care facilities. Int Psychogeriatry. 2011;23:1222–1230. | The biomechanical demands of standing yoga poses in seniors: The Yoga empowers seniors study (YESS).[BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013] Physical-Performance Outcomes and Biomechanical Correlates from the 32-Week Yoga Empowers Seniors Study.[Evid Based Complement Alternat…] Physical demand profiles of hatha yoga postures performed by older adults.[Evid Based Complement Alternat…] Yoga and physical exercise – a review and comparison.[Int Rev Psychiatry. 2016] A Systematic Review of the Energy Cost and Metabolic Intensity of Yoga.[Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016] Citazione di altri articoli in PMC Effect of Yoga versus Light Exercise to Improve Well-Being and Promote Healthy Aging among Older Adults in Central India: A Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial[Geriatrics. 2019] Effects of yoga on well being and healthy ageing: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial (FitForAge)[BMJ Open. 2019] Physical-Performance Outcomes and Biomechanical Correlates from the 32-Week Yoga Empowers Seniors Study[Evidence-based Complementary a…] Yoga, bioenergetics and eating behaviors: A conceptual review[International Journal of Yoga….] Yoga Empowers Seniors Study (YESS): Design and Asana SeriesSee more… Physical performance measures that predict faller status in community dwelling older adults.[J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1992] Review Lateral stability and falls in older people.[Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2003] Yoga decreases kyphosis in senior women and men with adult-onset hyperkyphosis: results of a randomized controlled trial.[J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009] Randomized, controlled, six-month trial of yoga in healthy seniors: effects on cognition and quality of life.[Altern Ther Health Med. 2006] Effects of a yoga program on postural control, mobility, and gait speed in community-living older adults: a pilot study.[J Geriatr Phys Ther. 2011] Development and evaluation of a yoga exercise programme for older adults.[J Adv Nurs. 2007] Yoga for chronic low back pain: a randomized trial.[Ann Intern Med. 2011]

*1. Tummers N, Hendrick F. older adults say yes to yoga. National Recreation and Park Association; 2006.
– Greendale GA, Huang MH, Karlamangla AS, Seeger L, Crawford S. Yoga decreases kyphosis in senior women and men with adult-onset hyperkyphosis: results of a randomized controlled trial. J
Am Geriatr Soc. 2009;57:1569–1579.

*2 Patanjali – Yoga Sutra . I – 12

*3 Prana: energia, forza vitale, Yama: regolazione e canalizzazione: in sostanza, gestione dell’energia vitale.

*4 Prana: energia vitale, Dhara: Flusso, corrente. In sostanza: è la pratica di fare fluire l’energia secondo i precorsi adeguati e nella giusta direzione durante l’esecuzione delle asana.

*5 In questo caso si intende l’allenamento a canalizzare la nostra mente in una direzione decisa consapevolmente e mantenercela.

*6 Il Rilassamento è descritto come uno stato psico fisico in cui la persona si sente libera da tensioni fisiche e mentali.

*7 KYM – Nella tradizione di Khrishnamacharya, forse l’ultimo grande Insegnante di Yoga da cui sono nati gli stili più diffusi attualmente. L’insegnamento diffuso dal figlio e dal nipote, con cui ho avuto l’onore di studiare., T.S.V. Desikachar e Kaushtub Desikachar.


Ines Federica Tecchiati, studia Yoga e Danza sin da giovanissima, sia in Italia che all’estero (India, Stati Uniti, Gran Bretagna). Inizia a insegnare Yoga nel 1992.
E’ laureata in Lingua e Letteratura Inglese.
E’ insegnante specializzata di Anukalana Yoga e Meditazione. Insegna Yoga in Gravidanza, Baby Yoga, Vinyasa Flow, Rilassamento Psicomotivazionale e Yoga Nidra.. E’ Danza Movimento terapeuta, Formatrice e Supervisore APID® (Associazione Professionale Italiana Danza Movimento Terapia). Attualmente è Presidente dell’APID®. E’Art Psychotherapist (Goldsmith College, University of London), 1998 e specializzata in Strumenti di Osservazione del Movimento. (LMA, KMP e Bartenieff Fundamentals). E’ RBT™ (tecnico certificato di Riabilitazione Comportamentale.
Insegna sia In Italiano che in Inglese.