Can Seniors Do Yoga?

Francesca Silva

seniors-do-yoga.jpgMy mother, who’s 91, goes to the senior centre twice a week for her exercise class. She often stays on for lunch with “the girls” after class, but the other day she asked me to pick her up from the centre and drive her home.

I arrived about half an hour early, so I waited outside the room for a while. But then my curiosity got the better of me because I could hear lots of chatting and gales of laughter coming from the room. I couldn’t resist it – I opened the door a little and peeked inside to see what was going on.

It turned out that the instructor was teaching the class a few yoga moves! Go figure – I’d never realized that my mother was going to yoga class twice a week! While I watched, the instructor led them through some gentle yoga exercises, focusing on breathing and balancing techniques, while making sure that the ones who needed chairs for support had them readily available. I felt ridiculously proud when I saw how well my mother was doing with the poses and gentle stretching. Rock on Mumsie!

When the instructor ended the class with the Savasana, I heard more than a few seniors mutter “Okay, at least I can do this one!” When the instructor – with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek – told the class that another name for the pose was the “corpse pose,” everyone broke out into laughter, with one senior commenting “Well, no wonder I can do this pose!” and another chiming in with “Who needs to practice this pose? We’ll have more than enough time soon!” Feisty bunch, these seniors!

When the class broke up, Mum saw me hovering at the door. “Come and meet my instructor” she said, so I dutifully went over to introduce myself (even at the age of 52, I find myself obeying my mother immediately). I mentioned to the instructor that I was taking yoga classes regularly and recognized that the poses she was teaching the seniors were yoga-based. She said she was a firm believer that a person of any age could benefit from gentle yoga practice, as long as they were doing it correctly to minimize any risk of injury. “Maybe you and your mother can do some of these stretches at home together,” the instructor suggested.

That’s a great idea. I’m always looking for things that Mum and I can do together – and practicing yoga together will be awesome and beneficial for both of us.

So off I go to find a DVD that can incorporate a gentle yoga practice for Mum and me. Any suggestions?

[tags]yoga for seniors, yoga for 91 years old, yoga instructor, practice at home[/tags]

2 Responses to “Can Seniors Do Yoga?”

  1. Joe says:

    I would love to see yoga more accessible to seniors, particularly in assissed living facilities, nursing homes, and senior centers. Seniors may benefit the most from yoga. Do you have any suggestions on how to make this happen?

    Take Good Care,

  2. I am a yoga instructor – almost 65 – and have been teaching seniors for several years at a senior school in Seattle, called Lifetime Learning Center. LLC offers a variety of courses on different topics, such as literature, politics, opera..but the also include wellness classes, such as yoga, Awareness through Movement and Taiji.

    In my yoga class I draw on a style, called Viniyoga. Viniyoga has a variety of adaptations so that my students who are between 55 to 85 years old can easily follow the yoga sequence and adapt the practice to their individual needs. In Viniyoga we go in and out of poses coordinating breath and movement. Only then do we hold the pose for several breaths.

    My students are quite fit and all can do yoga poses on the floor. They also do kneeling poses as well as standing poses. If there is some difficulty with dizziness in standing poses the student is welcome to use a chair for extra support.

    I enjoy teaching this senior class. My students are so enthusiastic, appreciate and they appear to have a lot of fun.

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