by Rebecca Mendez
Is this something you think about? How about Yoga and Healthy Aging?
Healthy Aging is on my mind quite often. One, because I teach a Yoga for Healthy Aging class at Sellwood Yoga every week (Weds at 10:30). And my Yoga for Healthy Aging Workshop 3 week series starts on April 7.
Secondly, Yoga for Healthy Aging is critical for me as I want to both age well and keep my personal yoga practice accessible and ongoing for the rest of my life.
I teach Chair Yoga 4 times a week at a senior residence in person and via zoom from my home studio. My students range in age from their 60s up to their 90s and most of them have concerns about healthy aging. And they love practicing yoga.
So how do those two things come together in my classes and workshops?
Here’s one definition of Healthy Aging to consider:
- Healthy Aging is bringing to our life a sense of well-being as we walk the path of aging.
Taking it one step further what might Yoga for Healthy Aging mean?
- Yoga for Healthy Aging is the use of our yoga tools (asana, meditation, pranayama and philosophy) to support us as we age.
- Yoga for Healthy Aging is cultivating equanimity in mind, body, and spirit.
And as I go down the rabbit hole, how could we define Equanimity?
- Equanimity is having composure, a calm and clear mind. Balance in thought and in action – using our yoga tools to help. The opposite of excited in certain situations.
- Cultivating equanimity allows you to think more clearly and make better decisions overall, and may also help you handle age-related changes (in your brain and body) with greater composure.
Combining all three concepts and using our yoga tools to help sounds like an incredibly wonderful way to approach our lives!
As I teach (and practice) with the idea of Yoga for Healthy Aging in mind, I go one step further and know that making a yoga practice accessible helps make it a regular practice. And practicing regularly helps us reap the benefits of yoga. Some benefits of practicing yoga more often include: stress management, nervous system regulation, good sleep, improved digestion, healthy lymphatic system, brain health, plus a community/social activity.
In the Yoga for Healthy Aging Workshop sessions we use our yoga tools to address three key areas: 1. Balance, 2. Flexibility + Agility, and 3. Strength. These are not only important to yoga but also essential in our daily lives! We practice with:
- Mental focus and awareness (meditation)
- Breath and conscious breathing (pranayama)
- Adding props for variety and challenge in our poses (asana)
- A non-judgmental attitude, open mind and confidence (yogic philosophy)
We explore a variety of poses (using different props), creating an accessible practice by finding what works (and doesn’t work), discussing our experiences and putting it all together for a complete practice to do at home (or in a studio class). And just as importantly we express gratitude for the time and resources to learn and take care of ourselves.
Therefore I believe we all need a yoga practice that is accessible. It doesn’t matter if you have practiced for many years, are brand new to yoga or maybe coming back after an injury or illness: yoga will be there for you.
My goal in the Yoga for Healthy Aging Workshop Series is helping students find an accessible approach to yoga. And I believe that any style or type of yoga is beneficial. Chair Yoga, Yoga for Healthy Aging, Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Gentle Yoga, etc. Once you know how to make your practice accessible all of yoga is accessible.
Come explore Yoga for Healthy Aging with me. We will have fun and learn how to create an accessible practice for you!