All that glitters may not be gold in our golden years—we may be shining from sweat if we want to stay healthy.
Have you ever wondered what yogis need to do to stay in good physical shape as they get older? While we can’t speak for everyone, Desiree Rumbaugh and Michelle Marchildon are two “Wisdom Warriors” who work hard to stay fit on the mat.
“My goal is to stay healthy,” Desiree said on a recent visit to Denver, Colorado. “Maintaining my weight, energy and strength is a priority especially when I travel and teach throughout the world.”
Staying strong, however, is easier said than done. Once we turn 50, we begin to lose muscle mass and endurance at an alarming rate. Keeping ourselves healthy is essential to living an active and fearless life. Nothing will bench you faster than illness or injury.
“I tell my older students that it takes more than yoga to keep a yogi healthy,” said Michelle. “It’s going to take perseverance too.”
Here is the “Exercise Rx” from these two warriors to maintain a strong yoga practice at 50 and beyond.
Desiree: “I run or jog 3-4 times a week for an hour, mostly on the beach. I usually incorporate walking lunges and climbing stairs with the walk/jog time. I also ride a stationary bicycle, 2-3 times per week, and I hula hoop and use a rebounder 2-3 times a week as well.”
Michelle: “I can’t run anymore. My joints just won’t allow it. So I walk with intermittent jogging or curtsey squats and lunges for 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week. I also ride my bike and take circuit training classes, like Orange Theory Fitness or Yoga Sculpt, which combine cardio with strength training. I need a class for motivation or else I won’t work to my potential.”
Desiree: “I lift weights twice a week, exercises with 5 or 10 pound dumbbells for triceps, pecs, shoulders and back. I use 50 pound weights for deadlifts for glutes, and 25 pounds for plie squats. I also use 5 pound ankle weights for good old fashioned leg lifts.”
Michelle: “I lift with 5–10 pounds three times a week for 30 minutes. I do squats, lunges, bicep curls, etc. It’s not my favorite thing, but Desiree’s routine is going to motivate me to step it up.”
Balance and Core:
Michelle: “I noticed my balance and core has become weaker, so I’ve added in Pilates. I do a class once a week. Now my core feels solid in yoga.
Yoga for Strength and Flexibility:
Desiree: “I practice twice a week for at least two hours. I practice long inversions with timings including a 10 minute headstand and 15 minute shoulderstand. I focus once a week on deep hip openers and the other time on deep backbends.”
Michelle: “I’m more of a #yogaeverydamnday kind of yogi. I usually practice six days a week for 30—90 minutes each time. However, I take one day off a week as a way to signify that balance in life is my priority. I also practice timings and I’m up to five minutes on forearm stand and headstand, and 10 minutes on shoulderstand. I practice Hanumanasana at least three times a week, and an asana with a shoulder rotation too. These are the problem areas in my practice, so I practice them more often!”
What it looks like:
Desiree: “I really like to mix it up these days, a little of this and a little of that. I am on the road teaching yoga 3-4 days a week, so I work out less on those days. I have to work most of it in when I am home. When I am on the road I tend to add in a bit more yoga here and there.”
“There is so much to do and so little time! And sometimes I have to go up to three days without exercise. If I take more time off than that, it will feel like almost starting over. But at least I do start over, and over and over…”
Michelle: “Until we get it right! I just want everyone to know that it’s not in our genes; it’s in our determination that we stay strong after a certain age.”
Desirée Rumbaugh is the creator of the Wisdom Warriors (TM) practice for older, experienced yogis. She teaches from the experiences of more than two decades of practice. As a full-time teacher, Desirée travels the world offering workshops, which are innovative and transformative, challenging and compassionate. She has a well-earned reputation for deepening the most new to the most seasoned practices, through humor balanced with a quest for authenticity. She is also the creator of the “Yoga To The Rescue” series on DVD.
Michelle Marchildon is a Wisdom Warriors (TM) teacher in Denver, Colorado, and a student of Desiree’s since 2007. She is the Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist, and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga. Her second book, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, is for yoga teachers who want to inspire their students. Michelle is a columnist for elephant journal and Origin Magazine and a contributor to Teachasana, My Yoga Online and Yoga Journal. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches in Denver, Co where she is busy raising two boys, two dogs and one husband. You can follow her on Facebook at Michelle Marchildon, The Yogi Muse. You can find her blog and website. And you can take her classes on here.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise