According to Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, the quickest-growing segment of the American population consists of seniors over the age of 65, and many of these are turning to Yoga to stay mentally and physically fit. Considering the fact that statisticians expect the number of these seniors to double to 80 million by 2050, there is obviously a need for Yoga instructors trained to work with older students.
The over-65 age group is also one of the most diverse and vulnerable groups in Yoga schools. Teachers must know how to safely teach Yoga to seniors, but they must also know how to integrate Yoga with traditional medicine. As life expectancy continues to expand, the likelihood of even older students continues to grow.
What Instructors Need to Know
• How to safely and creatively adapt poses and other practices to suit the needs of aging students
• The symptoms and limitations of common health ailments, such as chronic pain, arthritis, knee or hip replacement, heart disease, and circulatory problems
• Precautionary measures and exercises geared to specific conditions
• Poses that are contraindicated for particular conditions
• Special practices, such as chair Yoga, that enable seniors to do poses
• How to address social and spiritual issues involving age
While the demands of teaching Yoga to seniors may seem overwhelming, classes provide benefits that make the effort worthwhile. Among these are the following:
• Sense of community and support
• Less likelihood of falls
• Improved alignment and flexibility
• Sense of control over aging process
• Heightened awareness of the body
• Greater confidence
• Reduced stress and anxiety
• Better quality of sleep
• Insulin control
• Reduction of pain
• Increased bone density
• Greater energy and stamina
• Opportunity to learn healthy habits
Seniors with disabilities may prefer to practice Yoga with their caregivers, a practice that could improve the quality of their lives and reduce stress and burn-out in those caring for them.
Older students should look for well-trained instructors who enjoy working with seniors. Perhaps more than in any other age group, getting the OK of a medical professional and keeping the teacher informed of special needs are critical to getting benefits and preventing injuries.
© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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