I’m a yoga teacher. I teach Senior Yoga twice a week and I love it. I would joke that when I’m in my 80s I want to teach yoga to 50-year-olds. Right now I’m in my 50s teaching 80-year-old youngsters.
On any given day, my youngest student is 83, my oldest is 96. We run through a series of seated and standing poses before moving down to the floor. And yes, they can get down and up from the floor themselves! It’s also something that we practice, using chairs to steady them as they get up. (Chair yoga is an option for seniors who have knee issues.)
We even practice moving into a standing position from the down dog pose. We walk our hands back until we’re able to stand. That practice helped more than one of my students when they knelt down to get something and couldn’t spring back up.
One of the funniest moments in one of my senior classes was when I moved everyone into a pose and reminded them to breathe. One student asked if she should breathe in or breathe out. “Both,” I replied. And then we all laughed.
It can be fun teaching yoga to seniors because they usually don’t worry about what someone else thinks of them. They speak their mind and they’re not concerned that their pose doesn’t look exactly like the next person’s. They recognize their limitations and understand that we may need to modify a pose to fit their body.
More than any other students I’ve ever taught, my seniors truly understand the concept that everything is already ok. Sure, there is still some competitiveness there, but there is also an openness about how they feel, and what works today and what doesn’t. It’s different from a class with twenty and thirty-somethings. They are usually embarrassed to share injuries. Looking at what others are doing and trying to imitate even though their body may not be ready for it.
It feels good when one of my students tells me that I’m keeping them moving despite their arthritis. I was amazed at one student, who relied on a cane every day for three months. At the end of one class, she got up after savasana and walked out without her cane. I love hearing seniors encourage each other. I’m inspired by every class I teach.
How does teaching yoga feel to you?
Read What are the Benefits of Senior Yoga to find out how yoga can benefit seniors and the best type of yoga classes to begin with. And Yoga is Not about the Pose is a reminder that yoga is not about contorting your body into painful shapes. It’s about finding the pose that works best for you and your body at that time.
Want to learn more about Senior Yoga? Yoga for Seniors is a DVD that has three different yoga practices. The beginning level starts with a full Chair Yoga session. It works the whole body while building strength and range of motion.
There is also Lilias! AM/PM Workouts for Seniors. If anyone remembers, Lilias was our first TV yoga teacher. She started teaching yoga on PBS back in the 1970s. She’s modified her practice for her age. It’s a program that is accessible to most.
I hope you enjoy your yoga practice.