Megan McDonough: Yoga with Seniors ~ Part 1

egan McDonough, the award-winning author of Infinity in a Box: Using Yoga to Live with Ease, is an established yoga instructor who is on the faculty of the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Advanced Training. She teaches yoga to seniors at Listening, the Barre Integrated Health Center in Massachusetts.

[post-img]We at YogaHub recently had the opportunity to interview Megan about her unique experience of sharing yoga with the senior community.

YH: Tell us more about Listening and the yoga classes it offers to seniors.

Megan: Listening, The Barre Integrated Health Center in Central Massachusetts, is a non-profit corporation and community center that offers a range of classes and workshops to educate and promote the wellbeing of its community.

Classes for seniors are supported by a grant from the Fallon/OrNda Community Health Fund of Greater Worcester Community Foundation and other private donors. There are four senior yoga classes a week; I teach chair yoga twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while another instructor, Beverly Duda, teaches a modified yoga class on Mondays and Wednesdays.

[tip-fact]YH: Why do you think yoga is beneficial to seniors?

Megan: It’s never too late to learn something new and to explore new horizons at any age. Along with the physical movements, seniors need to feel a sense of community and fun. The seniors in our yoga class feel a sense of community; they enjoy each other’s company and support each other in times of need. There have been several instances where someone has lost a spouse, and our yoga class has enabled them to feel less isolated and get some much-needed support.

YH: What type of yoga do you teach seniors? Is it a combination of yoga techniques? Do you modify or adapt yoga poses for seniors?[b-quote]

Megan: My classes are very non-traditional. I don’t push the seniors to accomplish specific moves but rather encourage them to do whatever they feel comfortable doing. Come to think of it, I couldn’t push the seniors around even if I wanted to – if they don’t want to do a move, they simply won’t do it!

I put a lot of emphasis on laughter yoga through breathing techniques because I feel it’s important for seniors to have sense of fun and fulfilment. I also focus on joint work and balance techniques, which are especially beneficial for seniors.

As we age, it’s easy to focus on the physical aches and pains, rather than noticing the entire mind/body entity. I encourage people to notice what they’re thinking and feeling, and I try to bring them deeper into their own experiences so that they can broaden their awareness and act in ways that are consistent with those experiences.

Continue to Part II of Megan's Interview…

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