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"The Joy of Teaching Yoga to Seniors: How Empowering Older Adults Can Bring Fulfillment and Growth"

I love working with older students, it was never something i originally intended to do but when i started my first class in my local community centre which is still running today it organically evolved and the student's were mostly older than 55.

Why do I enjoy it so much?

My older students usually have established careers or are already retired, and their children are grown up. Therefore they are more in charge of their time. Their priorities often shift from taking care of others to taking care of themselves. Yoga becomes an important piece of the self-care routine. Often they may be trying to manage health conditions, aches and pains where they come to Yoga to build strength, improve their mobility, increase their flexibility and manage their mental well-being. But honestly what i've found is they love the connections and friendships they have found with others in the class.

All of this means that they are more consistent in their class attendance, they keep their appointments and they are interested in going deeper, beyond physical contortion. Some of my students have been studying with me for 4 years plus. How’s that for commitment to practice? And since many of my students are older professional women, they are incredibly supportive of me as a yoga teacher which makes our relationship even more special.

I also have the privilege of having my Mum attending my classes which has been a wonderful mother and daughter way to bond and knowing my Mum is benefiting from my classes means a lot to me.

Teaching Seniors: Tips and advice for Yoga Teachers

I believe there are 4 areas to focus on when teaching Seniors

  1. Spinal Mobility - Maintaining the mobility of the spine is fundamental to any well-rounded yoga practice and becomes even more important as we get older. A sequence should include a range of movements from forward and backward bending to lateral bending and twisting.

  2. Core strength - Building a strong Core can help to support the lower back creating stability and more balance in the body.

  3. Improving Balance - balance declines with age and falling over can be devastating to students physically and mentally. Therefore working on student's balance is fundamental to their wellbeing

  4. Improving flexibility - This is not a primary focus for seniors as they are more likely to want to be able to get up and down off the floor, feel less stiff and be able to feel more stable in their walking and balance of every day life with minimum discomfort but it's important to still include some stretching in the class.

After 4 years of teaching Seniors I've certainly learnt a lot. And adapted the sequences as I've gone along learning from my student's as i observe them in class and from their valuable and honest feedback. They benefit from a longer warm up of their joints, slower pace movements with simpler poses (however as my class include mixed level abilities i do have extra options for those that want/can work a little harder) and some predictability of sequencing.

I highly reccomend the use of Yoga props including blocks and belts. I even use for some student's the wall for support and chairs are available if required.

Overall my number 1 piece of advice is to foster the relationships with your Senior student's, watch them blossom and grow in confidence, always believe in them and encourage them to believe in themselves.

Senior Yoga
Yoga for Seniors

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