What do John Boehner, Bonnie Raitt and prisoners at Sing Sing have in common? Like 36 million other Americans, they do yoga, says "The United States of Yoga," a special section in the April/May issue of AARP The Magazine.
It's an ancient practice, after all. And it's one that doesn't discriminate by age. Of the folks who do it, 39 percent are older than 50, the magazine reports.
If you want to "take a deep breath and join in," the magazine suggests the most suitable styles for seniors. In your 60s, for instance, try Iyengar, which "emphasizes precise alignment, deep stretching and holding for long moments."
The package features a primer on yoga gear, a rundown of yoga's health benefits and a sample yoga breathing exercise.
Online, you can view a free quickie lesson geared to seniors and led by Lorrie Lynch, a certified instructor and AARP's features director. The five-minute video introduces newbies to a few simple standing poses, all of which help to improve bone density as we age, Lynch says.
For the magazine, she contributes an essay that offers the most compelling case for yoga: "Yoga has saved my life, twice." Lynch recounts how she used gentle yoga to recover after a quadruple coronary bypass operation. Although she had practiced before the surgery, "I did not really 'get' the breath and meditation part of it until I was in serious need of physical healing," Lynch writes.
Fast-forward seven years, and Lynch was laid off from a company she'd worked at for three decades. To deal with her "shattered ego," she returned to the mat. This time, she made vigorous, hot power vinyasa classes a daily habit. "I was sweating out all the hurt and resentment," Lynch adds.
Both experiences were transformative, and that's what Lynch hopes to convey to anyone who's hesitant about taking a class.
And maybe you'll run into Bonnie Raitt.