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Teaching senior citizens yoga through the Pandemic

July 02, 2021

Being brave and free with senior citizen yoga

‘You’re as young as your spine is flexible’ this adage by Joseph Pilates resonates strongly with me. A famous concept in yoga philosophy determines a person’s age not on the chronological number but rather on the flexibility of the person’s spine. Yoga is an amalgamation of moves that help in balance awareness, circulation, flexibility and strength-building with techniques such as visualisation, yogic breathing and guided meditation. By combining kriya, asana, pranayama and meditation yoga supports the integration of mind and body.

A body to match my spirits

 One of the Silvers working towards the International Yoga Day 2021

A BODY TO MATCH MY SPIRITS 

This pandemic gave me the opportunity to handhold and motivate a number of newbie students and act as an anchor for many senior citizens, I like to call Silvers. We not only worked together through these difficult times but also helped aspire to keep their mind and body fit. My motto being ‘be brave and free’ helped the ladies fight their doubts of achieving a successful practice daily, for all these months. This is when the students found their body to have become free, to match their spirits. Unbelievable achievements were accomplished and their joy knew no bounds.

 

60 suryanamaskars

Anita's mum Leela Karat, working towards her goal for International Yoga Day

60 Suryanamaskars over 60!

On this International Day of Yoga, the team of yoga enthusiasts between 40 and 70 years were able to complete 60 Surya Namaskars while a few silvers breezed through a cool 30. Together as a team, we also motivated my mother to complete 60 Surya Namaskars.
Motivation and grit resulted in the delightful achievement of asanas and improved their body form as well as their medical parameters. With a regular exercise routine of pranayama, asana, kriya and dhyana the silvers felt more energetic and it helped manage the aches and pains that came with ageing. This led to a more independent life where they were able to stay safe by boosting their immunity during these unprecedented times and feeling positive and their best.

Transforming limitations to strengths

Neelam practicing for the International Yoga Day 2021

TRANSFORMING LIMITATIONS TO STRENGTHS

As a group, we bonded at different levels and the outcome was sheer bliss - each and every one of them oozed such positivity that even the shy introverts became bolder at attempting new asanas and pushed their body a little more than before. Everyone comes with a sense of their own limitation, be it physical or mental. To be able to work around the ailments of the silvers or the self-imposed biases of the youngsters and achieve the best forms of practice through modifications of asanas, partner yoga or animal asanas, anything to help them shift their focus from their limitations to their strengths and be confident enough to attempt vinyasa. The openness, enthusiasm and the selflessness with which they give their all to experiment and push boundaries is reflected in their own experience of improved flexibility, balance and enhanced strength.

Yoga accessories for practice

Using yoga blocks, yoga straps, walls and chairs to improve mobility

TOOLS TO IMPROVE MOBILITY

As a fall is the leading cause of injury amongst silvers, our yoga sessions help provide the tools they need to improve their mobility so they could get around doing their daily chores more safely. The use of props is very crucial to practice as it helps with the more strenuous poses without overexerting oneself and at the same time is relaxing and reenergising. Props assure that your body is in alignment and can range from straps, dupattas, blocks, walls, doorways, stairs, chairs, tables and even kitchen counters! The practice was also a mood-booster; the combination of movement, breathe and meditation created an overall sense of well-being. Plus, yoga done in a fun, highly motivated class setting with their peers, they were getting the benefit of staying socially active, as well.

yoga for senior citizens

Triptha practicing for the International Yoga Day 2021

ON THE MAT AND BEYOND

It has been an enormous learning for me more than teaching my silvers yoga. The dedication, perseverance and free spirit they bring to the mat is so liberating. When we allow the lessons we learn during our yoga class to extend beyond our mat and spill into our daily lives, we tap into the unlimited power of the here and now thus achieving freedom of body, mind and soul.

anita karat joshua

Anita in the Bindu harem pants and Chin racer back tank top 

TATTVA YOGA – A PRACTICE OF MOVEMENT, ALIGNMENT AND PHYSIOLOGY

Yoga to me, is hanging out with my soul. A long history of regular yoga practice has helped me understand movement, alignment and physiology. If we haven’t experienced it ourselves, it is difficult to teach it. The ability to assess and guide students into safe exercise taking into account individual physical strengths and abilities is where the challenge lies for me. Since none of us are immune to life’s stresses and encounter them almost daily, encouraging the practice of yoga allows us to find time to connect with our minds and bodies.

Anita Karat Joshua is a yoga teacher and a Proyogi:) 

Do follow her on Instagram.

 


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