By Sangeetha Saran
Where is the Yoga for people at midlife or older? Yoga students vary in shapes, sizes, and ages. Each age group presents its own set of limitations and strengths. Teaching Yoga students over the age of 50 is going to be a little different than teaching teenagers. As we age our bodies’ change, joints can stiffen, muscles can grow weaker and bones can become more brittle. However, that doesn’t mean that all physical activity should stop. It just means that certain modifications may have to be made. The use of props to aid in certain poses may be needed at times. There will also be students over the age of 50 who will surprise you with their strength, flexibility, determination and good character.
It is rewarding as a teacher to work with so many students who give 100% all the time. Students over the age of 50 might be prone to certain issues such as arthritis. It can cause pain and affect flexibility. However, Yogic techniques can help with the associated issues that arthritis can cause. It can help to decrease pain while improving range of motion. The important thing to realize is that change doesn’t happen overnight, but it most cases, it does happen. Many people in their 50s and beyond enjoy Yoga training because it is a low impact yet effective form of exercise. It doesn’t add to the wear and tear on the body that other types of physical activity can cause, it can help to restore it.
Some people may not recognize the benefits of Yoga until later in life. They often turn to Yogic exercises after an ailment, injury, or maybe they realize that they need to start living a healthier lifestyle. Whatever the reasoning is, it is important to make asana practice as accessible or as challenging as the students need it to be. Some students will sail right through certain poses but may have trouble with poses involving balance. Offering guidance through compassionate advice and gentle positioning may mean the world to your students. Yoga for people at midlife or older is more than throwing a chair at them or telling them to go into Child’s Pose if they have and difficulty.
We hear the buzz word “accessibility,” but what action do teachers take to encourage students of all ages? We need to take action and welcome students who are not young adults anymore. Getting regular exercise benefits everyone, no matter what age group they are in. Doing Yoga a few times a week (or even every day if possible) can help a person to get more in tune with his or her body. It can help to enhance relaxation while decreasing pain levels. Practicing Yogic techniques and eating a healthy diet are two ways to enhance health, and that benefits people of any age. Yoga for people at midlife or older can be a life enhancing experience.
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