How To Age Well With Yoga
Updated: Aug 16
Sure..it is crazy to lob people into age groups and see how yoga works for them.
But, bear with me! There is a lot of research that looks at behaviours and attitudes of people towards wellbeing, and generational trends can be identified. That does not mean that every 43 year old has all the characteristics of a generic Gen X type. But from what I see at the studio, the trends are pretty accurate. Exceptions only prove the rule of course 😉
So what "Gen" are you?
Anytime a group of people is labeled a “generation,” there is stereotyping, but the classifications prove useful in understanding shared experiences, circumstances, attitudes and behaviours. A generation is defined as a group of people born in the same general time span.
According to theactiveage.com there are currently 7 generations alive alongside each other. We tend to see 4 of those represented at the studio:
Boomers - you are currently 57 - 76 years old
Gen X - you are currently 42 - 56 years old
Millennials - you are currently 27 - 41 years old
Gen Z - you are currently 12 - 26 years old
I did a little digging to see how yoga can be of benefit to people of different ages. It is so interesting to find how the approach to wellbeing changes across the generations. The findings are roughly in line with what I see day to day at the studio, and at home (I have 2 Gen Z children and one Gen Alpha child (who has grown up with yoga in his life from day 0, so that will be an interesting one to watch), my parents are Boomers. Most of our students are Millennials to Boomers.
Boomers' Attitude To Wellbeing & Yoga
Boomers are traditionalists. They trust their GP and are only starting to carefully look at alternative and complementary therapies as true alternatives to traditional medicine. They are slowly including more organic and plant based foods in their diets, even though they grew up with food in those categories in the first place, but have been spoilt with convenience for decades. They want to age with grace and stay on top of chronic disease management.
Boomers are impressed with what yoga can do to help them achieve these goals, how strong they still are, that there is room for vastly improving their mobility, balance and strength even with just a couple of yoga sessions a week. Those boomers that join us for 3 or more classes a week see a real difference to how they respond to physical challenges, they are happier in their bodies and, therefore, happy in their minds. Physical health is overwhelmingly their priority when coming to yoga, as they are pretty satisfied with their mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Gen X' Attitude To Wellbeing & Yoga
Hello 👋 fellow Gen Xers! According to Baylor, Scott & White Health's research, we are the current generation that is the most educated, well read, we like the feeling of being (financially) secure and looking after others. We have lots of pressures pulling us in a million different directions (and that is without a pandemic or Brexit or a war at our doorsteps): jobs, family, finances, plus the pressure of looking after ourselves - a perfect storm for stress related discomfort. We struggle to manage that stress, always focused on the next achievement, the next "must-get-this-done". We want to look good, too, and we are keen to actively improve our health and wellbeing. We are more open to alternative methods of achieving wellbeing than the boomers are, and we often have the money to do so.
Gen X' love that yoga is the perfect antidote to the hectic life we live - whether we are athletes, or doing our running in the form of chasing children and pets, yoga offers balance. We love that yoga keeps us flexible, strong and fit. We slowly begin to realise the benefits on our mental health, too - the constant worrying about ageing parents, children, jobs, the world interrupts our sleep and we come to yoga to still the chatter, to find peace, to pause. Having grown up in a world where (stress induced) mental illness was taboo, we are keen to explore and experience the benefits that yoga and meditation give us in this realm, even if we are yet to openly speak about mental illnesses. Our focus, however, is often still on the physical aspect of Western yoga, and we find all sorts of excuses, why meditation isn't for us (🐒).
Millennials' Attitude To Wellbeing & Yoga
Millennials are the first generation that never knew a world without technology. They are an optimistic bunch, ready to change the world for the better, and believing they can. They have even less trust in doctors than Gen X' and are very open to alternative healthcare. Millennials have a holistic view of their wellbeing and include physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing, keen to take care of all of these aspect of their wellbeing. Millennials appreciate experiences more than things.
Millennials love yoga. They embrace it for the above reason: yoga gives them the perfect opportunity to look after their physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing all in one go. They are open to technology based fitness and wellbeing and drive the expansion of wellbeing, health and fitness apps. Our millennial students love stepping away from their technology, though, as the studio gives them what tech cannot - human interaction, true community, giggles and fun, which support their emotional and social wellbeing. Plus, they get the experience of being in a studio, practicing with an array of different teachers, asking lots of questions and making new friends.
Gen Zs Attitude To Wellbeing & Yoga
Gen Zs do not know a world without smartphones and social media. They are more open to embracing healthy (plant-based) eating, to really changing their ways to look after the planet. They are also competitive and driven and sometimes more focused on themselves and their own bubble than those in their immediate surroundings. Gen Zs are aware of stress and stressors and are not as shy as other generations to go and ask for help with their mental health. Gen Zs are already saving for their future but are willing to spend on their health and wellbeing. Overall, they also have a holistic view of wellbeing, and say that stress and mental health is their most important health and wellbeing concern. They exercising more, eat better, and prioritise mental health and sleep more than any other generation. According to Fitt Insider, they have a very strong bullshit filter and whilst influenced by brands, they aren't necessarily brand loyal and go to where they can get what's best for them in terms of feeling good.
At the studio, our Gen Zs are mostly attending Beginners classes, they are keen to learn yoga "properly", then fall in love with it as they are surprised by the positive effect a class has on how they feel. "Getting out of my head" is a frequent phrase I hear from them as a big benefit. They love the "yoga high" (it's a real thing!), the kick, the immediate effect of a class on their mental wellbeing. They are sometimes heavily influenced by social media, so seeing influencers doing yoga helps us to open yoga up to this generation - I can talk all day about the benefits, but a social media influencer can achieve a whole lot more with just one post about yoga. We have a couple of young men doing yoga as a balance to their gym workout - I LOVE the fact they are open to yoga and feel the physical benefits, too. I do believe, I have Ronaldo to thank for that!
How yoga can help YOU:
Are you a Boomer? (57 - 76 years old): Take yoga classes to stay on top of your ageing body and the risk of chronic illness.
Are you Gen X (42 - 56 years old): Yes, you are also ageing, sorry! Yoga is ideal for you, even if you have never exercised before. It will also help you start taking care of your stress, allow you to step away and take a break. Less pain and better sleep, you can't really say no to yoga 😉
Are you a Millennial (27 - 41 years old): Yoga allows you to take care of your wish to look after all aspects of wellbeing, your body, mind, emotions and spiritual needs. You are taking on more and more responsibility of family and, frankly, the world, prepare your body and mind well by strengthening all you have got with yoga.
Are you a Gen Z (12 - 26 years old): Starting yoga early on in life gives you a tool that helps you master and balance your body's and mind's needs now and in the future. We are counting on you, Gen Z! (no pressure)
Yoga for children: Yoga is also absolutely awesome for children. I am not going to dive into this topic here, and Tania Lawrence at Twinkl.co.uk did a cracking job of doing just that the other day, see her extensive article here: https://www.twinkl.co.uk/blog/yoga-for-children-the-ultimate-guide
Yoga is for everyone! For every body. Unwind is not, to be fair, ie not for those looking for very athletic, high octane yoga. At Unwind we teach slower yoga classes for people that want to stay fit and de-stress in a calm, unhurried space. Everything we do is about providing you with yoga and meditation that help you live your life with ease by making you flexible, strong, fit, less stressed and more focused.
We are also an eco-conscious yoga studio 🌱🧘
Trials at Unwind start at £19: https://www.unwindyogastudio.com/introductory-offers
Sources for research: