New to yoga at 58. Ouch! Help! Advice/info please.

Because I play musical instruments that involve extended periods of sitting on the floor, I need to stay limber. It’s been manageable until recently but I find myself a lot stiffer than I used to be. I asked a friend, who is pretty overweight and yet manages to sit and perform for hours at a stretch, how she does it. Her answer was “yoga” and she even had a recommendation, “Yoga with Adriene” (available on youtube).

I’ve gone to yoga classes a few times before, but they are not for me - nothing like being surrounded by 35-year-olds who balance themselves effortlessly, while I’m teetering pathetically and unable to keep up. Another reason I don’t like some forms of yoga is that the whole “mindfulness” introspective-centering-yourself stuff makes me roll my eyes.

Anyway, being able to do the routines alone and with a non-woo instructor is just what I need. I’m pretty highly motivated to do this thing, but even so, it’s really tough. I’ve done 3 days and although I intend to perservere, I kind of hate it. Dopers who are successful at yoga, help me out by answering a few questions:

  1. I just can’t do some of the poses, like a lunge. I literally topple over until I break the pose and catch myself. Is this even remotely normal for a 58-year-old beginner, and can I hope to improve with practice, or is this so out of the ordinary that maybe I will never be able to do it? I have been a klutz all my life and clearly do not have the sense of balance that many people do.

  2. Is it normal to have sore muscles at first? Will this go away if I keep at it?

  3. What if I don’t practice every single day, or do 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes on some days? Is it bad to skip days here and there when you are first starting?

  4. When might I notice some benefits?

BTW, I’m not overweight though I am also no longer skinny (5’4", 125 lbs), and in addition to running a 5k 3-5 times/week I sporadically lift free weights - nothing heroic, but enough so that I have some muscles and not just flab on my upper arms. So it’s not like I’m completely unfit.

Any insights based on personal experience or formal health/physiology training will be much appreciated. And all encouragement is welcome!

Well, I didn’t much like yoga, although I suppose it did me some good. Never once did I have a non-woo instructor, though (which was part of my problem).

But I LOVE Pilates! Now, it will still make you sore. But for some reason, when I come out of a Pilates session I feel like I’ve just had a nice hour-long massage (benefit right away). If you have a good instructor nothing will feel bad or tip you over (benefit). You don’t feel the soreness until the next day.

I think it’s normal to be a little sore if you do anything at first. I tend to get a little bit sore even with things I’ve done a lot, like, say, take a 5K. Practice is one thing. When I actually run in a race, I’m a little sore the next day because I tried harder, even though i don’t have the ghost of a chance of winning. I put out more effort when competing even though I thought I was using max effort when training.

But here’s a thing to think about. When I was doing physical therapy for my shoulder some years ago I asked my physical therapist if she saw anything in particular in terms of some older people aging better than others and she said that people who did yoga tended to stay in much better shape. Then she added, “or Pilates” to my great relief.

Yoga is cheaper though.

  1. I just can’t do some of the poses, like a lunge.

If you’re training with a non-woo instructor, point this out. Shorten your stance and widen your feet. The goal is to start building strength, balance and flexibility. If some of that is starting at ground zero, then that’s where you’re starting, and it’s going to take some time to work into it.

  1. Is it normal to have sore muscles at first? Will this go away if I keep at it?

This is normal for any exercise you start out in. The trick with yoga is that they’re always willing to show you a more extreme pose, so you need to recognize when it’s time to dial back a bit on the enthusiasm and be happy that you’re doing something that was hell of tricky a few months ago.

  1. What if I don’t practice every single day, or do 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes on some days? Is it bad to skip days here and there when you are first starting?

To start, two or three days a week would seem to me to be plenty. You’re having difficulty with it and beating yourself up is no way to get into a new habit. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can add more practices.

  1. When might I notice some benefits?

That’s going to change for everybody…

Heya! So glad to hear you are on the yoga train. It’s literally changed my life and I’ll be doing my training in the fall. So I’ll answer your questions best I can:

As a general suggestion: give classes a good shot. Try lots of teachers and studios to see who you connect with. There’s so much variety you will hopefully find a class and teacher you vibe well with. I began in “gentle” classes cause I was just like you, could barely sit criss cross and had no sense of balance or strength. 3 years later I’m doing the power flow classes and though it’s non competitive…I’m usually above average in the classes I take. So like all training, it’s more about you and your mindset rather than the class. You can always adjust poses and positions so you are reaching the edge of YOUR abilities. It doesn’t matter what the pose looks like, only what it feels like.

Also I’m a musician as well. You have to look at fitness like being a musician. You didn’t learn your instrument in a week, and neither will you develop great balance, strength, and flexibility in a week. Think of it like earning a degree. Days turn into weeks, turning into months, and into years…until all of a sudden your body will have changed so much you won’t remember the old you. I found thinking about Yoga and fitness like earning my University degree helpful, cause it took me five years to earn it and become a good performing musician. Yoga can be the same, but must be one day and breathe at a time :slight_smile: Ok enough preamble.

1.This is normal. I would just eliminate the word normal. It’s where you are at, and thats perfectly ok. You can alter the pose with blocks under your hands or do the pose for a shorter amount of time. Proprioception (your ability to understand where your body is in space) improves every time you practice.

  1. DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) is normal for any physical activity that pushes yourself. If it’s sort of a dull pain it’s normal and ok and will go away in a day or two. Anything sharp and makes you really wince is not ok and needs to be looked into.

  2. An hourish of yoga 3 times a week is really the minimum for seeing steady weekly results. 1-2 classes I feel is good for maintenance, but at a point 3 is really required for steady satisfying development. Also I feel 15 is really short, 30 is ok again, but for me 60 is the minimum. Not all yoga is about muscle exertion and there are many counter poses (Yin poses) that require no muscle or energy expenditure. They are beneficial when needing a rest…and the flexibility they help develop also will aid you to build muscles deeper when you go deeper into strength poses.

  3. Hopefully you notice a benefit the moment you leave class. That you did something really good for yourself. Even better when you notice it in class. But other than that…benefits can mean anything. Yoga does it all for me. But if you mean strength and flexibility, then if you did those 3 classes in one week, I bet the next week you would notice a few of those poses either lasting a bit longer, or moving into them a bit deeper.

I dance, and yoga helped me with that immensely. I feel yoga is such a great activity to pair with any other activity. Even music. Breathing through movement is like breathing through a musical phrase. Yoga has calmed me down as a musician and has allowed me to be more in control of my phrasing. Maybe you will notice it in that space. Also yoga develops such a good personal vocabulary of proper movement and posture skills. It will help you understand concepts with weights much better (Hinging at the hip, straight back, breathing through lifts, etc). Your body is an amazing machine and will do what you repeatedly tell it to do. So if you think those advanced yogis are amazingly fit and happy people, well it’s because they are all doing yoga.

I’m so excited for you! I hope you keep at it! :slight_smile: Breathe and Namaste! :slight_smile:

As someone who started yoga late in life, seriously obese, and with bad weakness and balance issues, I have a few recommendations:

  1. 2-3 times a week is plenty, but take the longer 60-75 minute sessions so that you get a full range of movements.

  2. I know you said that you hate classes, but I would really recommend that you go to at least some in-person classes while you’re still new to yoga. You need an outside set of eyes to help you with alignment and adjusting poses to your skill level until you get good at it. Otherwise, you end up just reinforcing your body’s bad habits and/or getting injured. You won’t realize that you’ve got your foot all twisted up or something similar until someone external points it out to you.

  3. Balance is fucking hard for some of us, and it’s super embarrassing but well within the range of normal. This is one of the places where a good instructor will help you find modifications of the pose so you can do it successfully. Recommendation for the lunge pose specifically: make sure your feet are widely spaced on the left-right axis, they shouldn’t be both on the center line. Start with your hands on the ground (or blocks). When you feel safe and balanced, put one hand and then the other on your front thigh and raise yourself up. When you feel safe and balanced, try raising one or both arms above your head. It’s okay if this takes time, and only go as far as is safe for you. (Balance improvement is slow, but you will get better!)

  4. Re: woo. Yeah, I hear you. I could not care less about my chakras; however, I have found that doing the mental work of keeping the mind focused on a specific image or mantra is actually surprisingly hard and useful work. Without believing in any of the religious underpinnings, I take the meditation and visualization work very seriously and it has improved my focus and clarity in everyday situations. (I can’t help you with the ayurveda nonsense, sorry.)

  5. Do gentle classes! In my experience the gentle classes are much more geared to flexibility and strength and will provide a broader range of movements, instead of more goddamn sun salutations.

It’s normal for beginners of all ages in all kinds of exercise. One of the differences between a good instructor of any kind of exercise and a bad one is that the good ones correct your posture a zillion times in a non-agressive and useful way. That’s where taking some classes comes useful: unlike a video, which may give pointers but gives them to thin air, an instructor will point out your specific bad gestures.

Don’t just assume your posture will improve: work on improving it. Check any position described by the instructor. If getting the position right means you spend less time in it, so be it: less time in a good position is not going to harm you; spending time in a bad position can.

A nonintuitive way to deal with balance issues: Step off your mat. I find that I can balance much better if I’m standing on the floor, rather than on a squishy mat, even in a lunge. If they’re having you stand on one foot for tree pose or something like that, definitely do what you need to do in order to be comfortable with it.

Similar kind of age and I also run 5k a couple of times a week. No question, if I don’t address it I do stiffen up around, esp. but not only around the hips/waist area.

I tried Yoga - and will go back to it at some point - but the answer for me now is Pilates. I love it and feel pretty evangelical about it.

Imo, we’re at the age where we have to incorporate this stuff into our lives not only because it relates to work but because it just adds an ever-increasing value to our lives. Rigt now I probably don’t feel 40 and don’t have a single ache anywhere.

Maybe think of your body as an instrument. The more you play it …

I’m a klutz too. I took a weekly yoga class for four years and I’m still a klutz. I’ve come to accept that there are a lot of standing poses that I won’t be able to do without the assistance of the wall. However, lunges are one kind of standing pose that I can do for short spurts of time unassisted. It wasn’t like this in the beginning, though. It took a lot of practice.

Thing is, it’s okay if you need a wall. You don’t have to do the idealized version of the pose to benefit from the version of the pose that works for you. If you find yourself in a yoga class where the use of props is discouraged, get thee out of there.

Yes. Some poses stretch muscles that you don’t usually stretch.

Of course it’s not bad. It’s okay to skip days in any kind of work-out, especially when you’re first starting off. You’re not in a competition.

It took me a year of weekly classes (and daily practicing) before I was able to appreciate how far I’d come. But to be honest, 50% of the improvement was psychological. It took a year before I developed a sense of acceptance about my physical limitations and stopped comparing myself (quite so much) to the more graceful bodies around me. Once I let go of the negative feelings about my klutziness, I started practicing more at home.

Thanks for the input everyone. I shall soldier on with the videos for now, but when I get back home (not until September) I will see if I can find a class/instructor, at least for a while. I hear those of you who have pointed out that without an instructor to help you, you may end up reinforcing bad posture/incorrect stances.

I’ll have to look into pilates, too. I don’t know if that is practical in Jakarta or not, but I can find out!

One of the yoga vs. pilates things, for me was, I never once went to a yoga class where I didn’t start looking at the clock fairly early thinking, “Is it over yet? How much longer?” Whereas in Pilates, like dance classes, I’m totally engaged and it’s more like, “Dang, it’s over already!”

In order to consistently get myself to do something, it has to be more of the latter than the former, or I just won’t get myself in there consistently enough. There are people with more self discipline.

Based on personal experience:

  1. That’s very normal, for all ages of beginner. And really for intermediate people as well, they’re just better at knowing how far they can go into a pose before it gets too wobbly and/or catching themselves before they fall. But (most of) the people who look like they’re effortlessly balancing aren’t so effortless or balanced, you’re just not looking at them at the right time.
    It’ll get better.

  2. Yes. It’s similar to running - you’ll get used to the soreness and push harder or deeper and refine the movement - you’ll still have muscle soreness, but it won’t be a “surprise! I didn’t even know that part of my body could get sore” type of soreness after a while.

  3. It’s fine to skip days.

  4. It will likely take a while. And it will be very gradual.

My best instructors were the ones who were “woo-y” but you would barely know that from taking their classes - it might show up in savasana, but other than that, they were very, very much about the physical aspects of yoga. If you talked to them after class, that’s when all of the weird would make an appearance.

What instruments do you play?

Not sure what free stuff is out there, but you may want to give DDP yoga a look. DDP is an ex-pro wrestler, so very limited amounts of woo (mostly confined to pro-organic, anti-GMO stuff in his diet plan if you care about that at all).


Messing up one’s back doing yoga at that age is so incredibly common that you have to be very, very, very careful.

The only sure way to avoid back problems is to not do yoga.

(Yeah, there are books and such out there touting yoga for back problems. Those people are less than trustworthy.)

Well, for me personally, yoga is what I have used to cure my back problems. That wasn’t why I started doing yoga, but it after doing it for a couple of years, I went from “I get crippling back spasms about once a year that are excruciatingly painful and require about a week of bed rest” to “wow, this is the first time in 3 years that my back has hurt and I stretched it out and was back to normal activity in about an hour.”

So YMMV, but I think yoga is GREAT for back problems.

I’ve never ever heard of this. A cite please from a medical professional?

Anyway, an NHS guide to beginners Pilates:
And a bunch of others, inc yoga:

All of these basic Javanese gamelan instruments. And I’m studying ciblon, which is a more difficult type of drum not used in simple pieces like the one I linked to.

Google maps sez there are over a dozen places, so that might work out.