Yoga for Seniors
It’s Never Too Late
Where is yoga going vis-à-vis senior citizens? Can a 70-plus-year-old man or woman visit a local yoga studio for the first time and enjoy themselves? Of course!
Yoga studios are making a meaningful contribution to the anti-aging movement through physical strengthening, mental resilience and concentration. Yoga offers a science of mind, where we cultivate inner freedom and integrity in our words, thoughts and actions.
Senior yoga practitioners have gathered wisdom and an appreciation for an active lifestyle. Seniors that embrace life with elegance and vigour are often referred to as Boomers. For all of us, our life experience can be synergized within a vibrant yoga community. A ritual gathering maintains socialization skills, which could provide a psychological balance. Moreover, each student may choose to be part of a peaceful community.
As a yoga instructor, I observed a 73-year-old student practicing vigorous yoga sequences. He’s maintained this weekly method over the past decade, content to share his microcosm in our gathering. He feels fantastic. You will see many fit seniors who enjoy a movement-based yoga practice. Most likely this modality of movement was established in their younger years, thus reasonable for them to continue mindfully.
Many of us experience symptoms associated with osteopenia, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. We are advised by our primary physician to attend yoga sessions. Yet sometimes, the physician doesn’t realize there are many yoga lineages and methodologies. Acknowledging osteopenia and osteoporosis, we know that our bones are at risk for breaks and fractures. This is frequently coupled with medications and possible side effects. In response to this, the physical goals in yoga are to ease the swelling in the joints, enhance coordination and balance.
What are the aims for a mindful yoga practice ?
Each student is encouraged to engage in svadhyaya, which is the Sanskrit term for self-study. Svadhyaya is a fundamental principle of yoga, where we are encouraged to explore equanimity. We can gracefully balance strength and ease in classes described as Hatha, Yin or Restorative yoga. Yet hatha is an umbrella term that describes the physical aspects of yoga, including methods of breathing, postures and conscientious eating habits. If senior yoga students lead a sedentary lifestyle, (exercise less than three days per week) begin with simple poses to assess balance, breathing and overall strength. Chair Yoga and standing poses at a wall are effective for everyone.
In the yoga realm, one strives for intuitive movement. Our meditation practice asks us to remain present with whatever arises. Over time, we experience embodiment. We move deeper into the human experience. It is the aim of every yoga practitioner to reach their full potential, tempered with benevolence, composure and a steady intellect.
Jodi Fischtein is a mixed lineage yoga teacher, loving the many aspects of Ashtanga, Prana Flow vinyasa and Yin yoga. She has Thai Yoga massage training and is currently immersed in MBSR protocols at University of Toronto. Through the dedicated work of Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, Jodi experienced a shift that speaks to inner peace. Being a mother of four opened the gates to empathy. With the practice of deep listening she is able to better understand her yoga community.