One common mistake some yoga teachers make is classifying students according to age. When you consider students over 55 years of age in a class that requires movement and flexibility the difference is mobility. If a student walks into class and has natural balance, that is one level of mobility. If a student requires a walker and hasn’t sat on a floor in 20 years that is another level of mobility and we might think the student with the walker might also be in for a few challenges with flexibility.
One of the best things about yoga training is that it is adaptable to fit people of all ages and physical abilities. Seniors can benefit from asana practice just as much or more than younger folks. As seniors age, staying active becomes an important part of staying healthy.
Which yogic programs are best for seniors? The type of yoga class you choose should be based on your current level of physical activity and experience. If you have not been exercising or are recovering from an injury, it is essential that you choose a yoga school with a strong emphasis on student safety. If you have been exercising regularly and want to experience the benefits of yogic methods, you may try a more moderate class. Regardless of which class you choose, it is important to inform the teacher of any injuries or health concerns you have before the class begins.
Here is an overview of the most popular types of yoga for seniors.
In restorative yoga, students hold poses for several minutes. Their bodies are completely supported by props. The props used usually include blankets, blocks, chairs, walls and bolsters. The philosophy behind restorative yoga training is to open the body in a passive way. People who feel very inflexible can benefit from restorative classes. Also, people who are new to asana practice may enjoy the passive stretch.
People who suffer from chronic fatigue and stress are excellent candidates for restorative yoga. A regular restorative practice will help the body defend itself against stress-related illness. In essence, seniors are excellent candidates for restorative yoga. If you are new to exercise, this class will help your body stretch and open. If you have a regular exercise routine, restorative yoga can help slow the body down and boost immunity.
This is a form of hatha yoga that focuses on relaxation, stretching and deep breathing. This form of yoga is ideal for those who are new to exercise. The primary difference between gentle and hatha is that the practitioner is not required to go into challenging asanas as deeply in gentle class in comparison to a hatha class. Seniors who mobile, but are new to yoga should consider trying a gentle class.
This style combines physical exercise with mental discipline. Students are asked to develop body awareness. Focus on the breath is also important. Active seniors may consider trying a hatha class.
Although the chair is the main prop in these classes it is not the only prop and it may be used in seated, standing and other positions, such as Legs on a Chair, which is a modified version of Viparita Karani.
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