Aldous Huxley has remarked in one of his novels that the scourge of the Middle Ages was Black Death; the plague of the twentieth century is Grey Life.7
—Sachindra Kumar Majumdar
As men age further, the emphasis of yoga shifts again. Yoga practices can still help to protect and safeguard health, but can take on deeper spiritual dimensions. As a man matures, the emphasis of yoga practice shifts from growing strong bones, muscles, and minds in the first several decades of life to maintaining and protecting his health. It is in their 40s and 50s that men often begin to feel those nagging aches and pains that are becoming chronic. Years of strain on the body are having their toll. By their 40s and 50s, most men have established their place in the world and have reached, or are nearing, financial security. It is at this stage of life, too, that a man's attention often begins to focus less on material acquisitions and more on the examination of spiritual issues, as he takes stock of his life accomplishments and goals he has yet to achieve.
Yoga can be a perfect way to continue to maintain strength and flexibility while tailoring a routine to your particular physical needs. This can mean using yoga to help you reduce areas of pain and holding by yoga stretching techniques or continuing to maintain your body in optimal condition so that you can protect it from potential injury and strain. As men become older, it is increasingly important to protect such key areas as joints (especially at the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles) and the muscles and vertebrae of the back. Yoga can help you to maintain strong and open joint areas as well as promote a strong and flexible back.
In addition to its physical benefits, yoga can help satisfy the emotional, mental, and psychological needs of men in their 40s and 50s. It is during these decades that men frequently begin to ask themselves with ever-greater insistence the deeper questions of life: "Who am I?", "Why am I here?", and "What is my purpose in life?" By helping you to focus and look inward, yoga can help you to explore these questions in an atmosphere of calmness, clarity, and support. Frequently, the answers to these questions will present themselves, spontaneously, in moments of silence that accompany or follow yoga practice. In this respect, it is particularly helpful if you are in your 40s and 50s to expand the yoga practices of meditation and pranayama, or breath awareness, as part of your yoga routine, or begin to incorporate them more fully if you haven't to date. You'll be glad you did, as these practices will help you weather the needs and challenges of the decades to come.
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