First, please read "7 Ways to Ease Into Yoga." Then, to reap the benefits of yoga and minimize risks, find an appropriate class taught by a qualified instructor. Look for classes:
1. At a hospital wellness center or integrative medicine center. Many offer yoga for general well-being, as well as classes designed for specific groups, such as breast cancer survivors, people with heart disease or those with chronic pain.
2. Designed for "over 50s." Senior centers and yoga studios often have classes geared to older adults. Ask the teachers how long they've taught yoga, whether they have experience teaching older adults and whether they've had any special training in working with seniors or people with health problems.
3. Then check out these resources. For referrals to instructors in your area, visit the Yoga Alliance, an organization that registers yoga teachers whose training meets certain educational standards. To find a yoga therapist in your area, visit the International Association of Yoga Therapists, a professional organization for yoga teachers and yoga therapists worldwide.
4. Try a video at home. A video may not be able to compete with a terrific yoga instructor, but if you want to try a video at home, Larry Payne, coauthor of Yoga for Dummies, has a good series of DVDs, including "Prime of Life Yoga," a classic beginners program for mature bodies.
Carol Krucoff, a yoga therapist at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, N.C., is codirector of the Yoga for Seniors Teacher Training and the author of Healing Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain.
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