Yoga for Beginners Over 50 – The Sandwich Generation

Posted by

The sandwich generation is a term used to describe people between the ages of 40 and 59, and refers to people who are caretakers for their aging parents and their own children. Usually, it’s women who are doing the caretaking of these two generations simultaneously.

Some women have full time jobs in addition to caretaking and are dealing with workplace stress. Some are dealing with the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia in their parents. And some are dealing with the draining costs of college for their own children.

These factors, along with all the daily stresses that come from life in general, can lead to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, financial anxiety, depression, and overwhelm. These can lead to weight gain, poor sleep quality, and just lack of self-care due to time constraints.

Today some doctors are moving away from the practice of just throwing prescriptions at people and looking to help in more of a holistic way. Doctors are suggesting yoga and meditation and emphasizing the importance of movement and de-stressing.

But if you haven’t taken a yoga class before, you’ll probably have some questions before jumping into a regular practice. Here are some answers to some of the common questions I have been asked and if you have any other questions, please comment below and I will answer them as well!

What if I’m Stiff and Inflexible? (#1 Question!)

There are so many different styles of yoga that do not require flexibility to start. Gentle Yoga, Restorative Yoga and Chair Yoga are great classes to start with. As you continue practicing, your flexibility is guaranteed to increase!

Where Can I Do Yoga?

Yoga studios are popping up everywhere! Search on Google for “yoga classes near me” and go to the websites and see what kinds of yoga they offer. Yoga classes at studios can range from $5 for a community class, up to $20 for a regular class. In a major city like New York, they will probably cost even more.

Also, check out a gym or a YMCA. They often have classes as well, but you will probably need to pay for a membership to participate.

If you sign up for MeetUp.com, you can usually find some community classes on there as well.

YouTube is an excellent source of free yoga, but I recommend to watch the whole practice before you begin, just to make sure that it will work for you.

Gentle Yoga for Beginners – Finding a Home to Practice.

What Will I Be Doing? What If It’s Too Hard?

If you haven’t done yoga before, you should be looking for a Beginner/Level 1 class, Gentle Yoga, Restorative Yoga, or Chair Yoga (if getting on the floor is not available to you).

The studio/gym should have descriptions of the classes. You can always call and ask if the class that you are interested in is appropriate for your level of fitness and what exactly they do during the class.

Classes usually are between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours. I suggest looking for a shorter class to start, so that you don’t get overwhelmed.

Before the class starts, please let your teacher know if you have any injuries or recent surgeries that may be aggravated during the practice. They can help modify poses for you, so that you are comfortable throughout the class.

During that time, the class usually starts with a short meditation time to center yourself and focus on your breath. Then you begin with gentle movements, maybe moving your joints, then moving on to your whole body. At the end is Savasana (final resting pose), where you get to lay down and let your body assimilate everything you did at the practice.

At all times during the practice, you should be listening to your body, and noticing the difference between discomfort and pain. If you feel discomfort, then just back out of the stretch a little bit. But if there’s pain, come out of the pose altogether.

Child’s Pose

Your teacher should tell you what to do if you need a rest during the class (like sitting or coming into Child’s Pose). It’s more important – and very rewarding – to listen to your body and rest than to push yourself into a pose or holding a pose for longer than it is comfortable.

What Do I Need To Bring With Me?

Most times you just bring yourself. Most yoga studios have mats, blocks, bolsters, and blankets that you can borrow when you are there. I prefer to take my own mat for cleanliness.

What Are the Benefits and How Long Until I See Results?

For someone under lots of stress, yoga is a great method of self-care. You are taking a time-out from your caretaking duties for others, and taking the time to reconnect with your body and calm your mind. This can help “flip your switch” from the sympathetic nervous system – the flight or fight response – to the parasympathetic nervous system – the rest and digest response.

Getting a break from the demands of everyone else by taking time for yourself to do yoga, will refresh and renew you as you go back to your “duties”.

You may feel results from the very first class you take, like a feeling of relief and peace. But after a month of practicing regularly – even just once or twice a week – you should see increases in your flexibility and maybe some changes to your body.

For Those with Hot Flashes: Is it Air-Conditioned?

Well, if you suffer from hot flashes, you probably want to avoid Hot Yoga and Bikram Yoga. In both of these styles of yoga, the room is heated up to ~90-100 degrees.

Some studios have classes considered “warm” and they heat the room to about 80 degrees.

Gym/YMCA yoga is oftentimes cool – ~65-70 degrees, because they share the room with the aerobic classes.

Different teachers (even at the same studio) will have their preferred temperatures as well. If you get too hot, let the teacher know. Most teachers want you to be as comfortable as possible, and will open windows, or adjust the heat if they can.

Can I Change at the Yoga Studio?

Most studios have a restroom where you can change if you’re coming from work. Gyms, of course, have a locker room to change in.

Conclusion

Again, I’d like to stress the importance of self-care, especially to caretakers. You have an extremely tough job – I personally have 2 aunts in the “Sandwich Generation” – and I know how hard you work. I really hope that yoga can help more people de-stress, and I am happy to answer any other questions you might have. Please leave them in the comments!
Barefoot Yoga

20 comments

  1. I never thought 5 years ago I would be a 32 year old male who practices yoga but due to an accident I am!

    My accident left me with arthritis in my ankle and I have found yoga so beneficial in improving my strength, flexibility and general well-being!

    I have never been the most supple but I have certainly noticed marked improvements of flexibility.

    Love the website, the article and yoga!

    1. Hi Andy, Thank you, and I’m glad that yoga is helping your body! It is so important to keep our flexibility and keep improving it as well as we get older.

  2. Thank you for addressing this often not talked about subject. You are right on the money with what you said about care takers being under extreme stress and oftentimes having to carry out their full time job as well. Yoga is good for the caretaker and is even a good option for the caretaker to perhaps share with their aging parent(s). I myself recently downloaded a yoga app. I’ve done yoga in the past and have focused the last few years on sculpting and toning at the gym via weights and cardio. Lately though I’ve yearned for the balance I felt with yoga. I’ve had a lot of luck with my app and think it’d be something a lot of beginners would feel comfortable with, especially doing at home at their own pace. Thanks for this post!

    1. Hi Jennifer, congratulations on downloading a yoga app – and practicing! I’m so glad to hear you’ve had good luck with it. Everyone needs balance in their whole life – sometimes caretakers are so busy, they don’t even have time to remember that!

  3. Hi and thank you for this very informative and helpful information on Yoga,

    I have been thinking of joining a yoga class for a while now to develop me core strength so I really appreciate this article because it as given me the confidence to take the next step.

    Thank you
    Jennifer

  4. Thank you for the reminder to get signed up for a yoga class!

    I have been wanting to get more flexible for a long time but have not been able to make “me” a priority until this year. I still have a lot to do and have some sleepless nights but I know that things are getting better.

    Do you recommend testing the different types of yoga…to get a feel for what my body might like? I have been told not to do hot yoga, by friends who have attended classes, but I got the idea that they thought it was too advanced for a beginner.

    What are your thoughts?

    1. Hi Irma, Even if you don’t have the time right now to make it to a class, I encourage you to take just a couple minutes of each day to move and stretch and focus on your body! I hope things get a little better for you soon!

      I do recommend testing the different types of yoga – every style is different and every teacher is different and usually every class is different. Hot yoga does tend to be more advanced. I would recommend starting with Gentle Yoga or Restorative Yoga!

  5. This is a good article that appears to be geared towards women. Just so you know, us males also get stressed, are caretakers, have full time jobs and we deal with financial issues routinely. Having said all that, I know Yoga is for everyone so don’t miss out on that male audience. I actually learned meditation while practicing martial arts many years ago so I know it does work.
    Thank you for this great information.

    1. Hi Curtis. I apologize if I sounded like I was neglecting the male caretakers of this world. I know there are many. And they do a wonderful job as well.

  6. Great post! Caretakers really do have a lot of stress. Yoga is a healthy and fairly cheap (free if done on youtube) option for self care.

    1. Thank you, Nicole! Caretaking is hard work, and I am really glad that yoga is available to everyone. Sometimes caretakers just can’t get away, and being able to do yoga in your downtime at home is helpful!

  7. My mother has been pretty interested in doing something like yoga to help her with stress.

    She’s been in a bad car wreck and after 5 months of healing is getting more and more movement.

    She has taken spinning classes (I hope I said the name correctly). Is this anything like yoga?

    Do you happen to know if yoga is covered under most health insurance policies?

    1. Hi Garen, I’m sorry that your mother was in a bad car wreck, but I’m glad that she is recovering her movement. Yoga can help with movement and flexibility as well as stress, so I think yoga is a great option for her! (Spinning is usually biking….)

      Sadly, I don’t think yoga is covered under insurance policies. But she can always start with free yoga on YouTube!

  8. Great article! I’m extremely stressed from working FT and being a caregiver to my 92 y.o. Mother. This article has inspired me to make some changes! Thank you!

  9. Great article, Andrea.
    I dare to say that I am in the ‘sandwich group’ – love the coined word. Yes, I do believe that yoga can do wonders to the body, mind, and spirit. It is really about mindset as well. The correlation between everything that ‘makes us up’. Great tips and suggestions. I will pass this along to few ‘sandwiches’ I know…lol.
    Keep up the great job.
    Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle, I agree about having a positive mindset – that works for most things / activities in life. When you feel positively about something and think positively about something, your body also reacts positively. Our bodies and minds are so interconnected. Thank you for passing this along to other ‘sandwiches’ you may know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *