Yoga Teacher Training: Seniors

By Gopi Rao

After becoming a yoga instructor, some teachers tend to specialize. Specialist yoga certification can vary from learning how to teach vigorous classes to gentle and therapeutic styles. Health is also a factor and we may consider Yoga as therapy for age or medical conditions. When considering yoga instructor training for working with seniors, we have to look at mobility, current health conditions, and exceptions. Most yoga teacher training courses classify seniors in one group and there are many exceptions. Some people belong in chair yoga classes before they are 50 years of age, but what about the lady in my class who is over 80 and can do 20 push ups with one leg in the air?

Unfortunately, as most people age, their bodies become less flexible and weak over time. Unless seniors have a regular workout routine where the muscles are bearing weight and the heart rate becomes elevated, the muscles and bone fibers begin to break down. Yoga is a wonderful solution for seniors because it provides a gentle, low-impact way to maintain strength, stamina and flexibility. Yoga instructors should focus on a series of simple asanas that will allow seniors to gain all the benefits that yoga provides.

Go Slow

A class for seniors is not the place to go through rapid series of vigorous poses. Introduce asanas by modeling, and then talk the class through each asana or technique. Give students time to breath through the pose to really let the muscles stretch. Transition slowly to avoid potential injuries or frustration. Consider focusing on a series of simple poses that focus on the hips, spine, neck and back. These areas can become stiff over time, causing the joints and muscles to become harder to move. Yoga poses will help lubricate the joints and provide greater range of motion for seniors.

Use Props

Many seniors will appreciate the use of blocks, bolsters, chairs, the wall or straps to achieve certain poses. Yoga teachers should always introduce props or potential adaptations for the postures, targeting those specific poses that are often hard to achieve. Make seniors feel confident that they can still achieve the asana with minor modifications by encouraging them to stretch within their ability level, letting the prop provide support as necessary.

Teach Caution

It’s important for seniors to understand the potential risks of strain or injury involved with some asanas. Encourage your yoga students to work within their ability levels, stopping if they ever feel discomfort or pain. Remind students that yoga is personal and individualized to what each unique body can do. Everyone has limitations, and yoga students should never push beyond what they know is too far. Provide an atmosphere that is accepting and nurturing for students at every level.

Encourage Pranayama

Yogic breathing is a key component to every yoga class, with senior classes being no exception. Teach students the importance of breathing deeply and fully into each pose to help achieve the asana and hold it longer. Breathing will also help students relax and focus on becoming strong, healthy and flexible by practicing yoga.

Side Notes for Yoga Instructors

It is important that we give yoga students of all ages the best possible experience during class time. It’s easy to fall into a rut and meet the minimum needs of those students who are in the worst condition, but what about the students who are cross training. Some seniors’ golf, play tennis, dance, and jog. They may not be content to sit in a chair as if they were in a physical rehabilitation unit within a nursing home. To get fresh and safe ideas, there are chair yoga instructor training courses to help you teach yoga to seniors in a physical rehabilitation or to that exceptional senior wh0 is in peak physical condition.

© Copyright 2006 – Aura Wellness Center / Publications Division

Yogic Ways for Good Eyesight

By Yoga Guru Suneel Singh

With age, the muscles behind the eyes gets weak and our eyesight starts falling. Even tender aged school going children may also be seen using spectacles due to week eyes. Its main symptoms are burning in the eyes, watering of eyes, seeing hazy or dim eyes, short sightedness, heaviness of head, etc.

Yoga offers some yogic sukshamavyama like Netra Shakti Vikasak, Tratak, Asanas and Pranayama. If practiced regularly, the week eyesight can be improved; and along with this, if one is following dietary recommendation; the result will be faster and accurate.

I. Netra Shakti Vikasak Kriyas

Blinking of eyes: Blink the eyes quickly 10 times close and release – do it at least 100 times in a day.

Focusing exercises: Sit in comfortable position with your eyes open. Fix your gaze at the nail of the right thumb – keep the first of the right hand closed with thumb stretched up in level with eyes. Slowly bring the hand near to eyes for a few seconds, then take the right hand away from you while still maintaining the level and gaze as before. Repeat it three times.

Candle Gazing: Sit in comfortable position – burn a candle and sit at least 4 feet away from the candle; start gazing at candle if water comes from your eyes then close it and relax. After few seconds, start doing once again. Do it at least 3 times.

Palming: Rub the palms till they become warm. Place the palms gently over the eyes, keep both the hands in such a manner that no light would enter the eyes; continue the practice for one-two minutes. Palming revitalizes the eye muscles and improves circulation of eye fluid, thereby improving the vision.

Water Cleansing: Take a wide mouthed bowel, full of clean and cold water. Now tilt the head downward – putting the right eye in the water with eyelid open. Roll the eyeball around in the same condition. Do it with other eye in a same manner. Do it at least with both the eyes – 5 times each eye.

Up-Down Viewing: Without moving head or the neck, look up and down. Repeat it at least 50 times.

Circular movement of the eyes: Keep your head and back straight. Try to rotate your eyes clockwise position – start from 12 o’clock, then 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock, and so on, until you complete the round. Make 5 rounds – then do it anti-clockwise in the same manner.

II. Asana:

Sarvangasana Method: Lie down on the back and relax completely. Slowly raise the legs, hips and trunk in a continuous movement until vertical. Raise the legs – keeping the knees straight and hips by supporting the arms on the ground – then bend the elbows and hold the trunk in the hand. In this posture, the chin is buried in the upper chest. Retain the position as long as it is comfortable. Then come down slowly. Relax – do it only once.

Benefits: Blood supply to the organs in the upper part of the body, such as eyes, heart, face, thyroid, roots of spinal nerves and brain. As a result, circulatory congestion is relieved and hormones flow into blood freely.

Caution: Those suffering from High B.P, Heart Ailments, Cervical spondylitis and slipped disc, should refrain from doing this asana.

Guru Suneel Singh