I assumed that seniors would be a little skeptical of “yoga”. And some are – those individuals have a preconception that it’s something weird or difficult. So at first, I was approaching the practice as a lot of “stretching”. At the end each class, I give everyone a nice shoulder rub as their seated savasana. If I can get them into the room once, moving them through a comprehensive seated practice ending with the shoulder rub, they love it and come back as much as they can.
After approaching the practice as “stretching” for a while, I started slowing the practice down and focusing on the breathing and getting in touch with the body more. At this point, I was the one who was skeptical. Would they think my talking about “feel your lungs fill up with air” or “feel the support of the chair underneath you” was silly? I took the plunge, and they were TOTALLY receptive. They have experienced the practice enough now that they know it’s different from “exercise”. And they really do look forward to it.
More and more people are practicing yoga. Each week, I’m now at three different senior living centers, visiting one home, and have three clients coming to the studio. They all come from different backgrounds and experiences, and they practice yoga for different reasons. But each leaves their practice with a renewed sense of calm and focus.
So if you are a teacher, put yourself out there! You’ll be surprised at how receptive people are for this wonderful practice and how many people are looking for the peace it provides. And if you aren’t a teacher, remember that 90 percent of yoga is lived off the mat. Take your practice and attitude into the everyday world and spread the peace we are all searching for.