Guest Post Author: Travis Friot | Yoga for Health and Aging
For starters, let’s debunk some common myths about this practice.
Yoga is for everyone. A lot of people envision yoga as a time and place of extreme stretching and flexibility. Images of people looking like contorted pretzels and even chanting some ominous conjuring language come to mind.
Yoga is not a religion. It is spiritual while helping each person to deepen their personal belief system.
Yoga is not just for the very flexible. In fact, the physical postures are just one small part of the whole practice.
Yoga encompasses physical postures, breathwork, and meditation among other things. As someone who has taught to people between the ages of 5-100 and to people with various health conditions, I could write a whole other article about the many different ways to enjoy the physical postures and achieve the same benefits.
So why should you be interested in practicing yoga?
The truth is that we can all benefit from worrying less about the past and the future and focusing more on present moment joy. As an older adult, you may have worries such as retirement savings, ageism, health conditions, the death of friends and family, and being a caregiver or receiving caregiving services.
Before we continue, it’s important to point out that aging does not have to be a path to doom and gloom. You can very well finally have the time and resources to pursue interests you’ve put off and share your lifetime of experience with others.
In fact, Yoga For Health And Aging has a website, http://yogaforhealthandaging.com/, with links to various resources on active aging. Now, back to those pesky worries.
One of the goals of yoga is to help us worry less and more enjoy the here and now. Imagine being able to walk around your neighborhood and just focus on the beauty of nature or eat a delicious meal and solely focus on the food in front of you. It can be experienced!
Can people, living with dementia, practice yoga?
Absolutely! When you honor the foundational principles of yoga, you can adapt the practice to meet anyone’s needs. Some of the ways that I adapt this practice is by singing our way through the poses, trying to whistle so that we take extended exhales, and meditating on the flavor of a lollipop as we taste it. I place emphasis on engaging the senses. This is another topic that I could write a whole other article on.
Now you’re excited, but how do you start?
It’s important to find a yoga teacher who understands the aging mind and body.
Look for teachers who offer many variations to poses as there are things to consider about the aging body. Also, look for a teacher who treats you as a person before they consider your age. Some of you have had the unfortunate experience of someone talking loudly to you because they assume that you cannot hear well.
You may even have experienced someone assuming that you are not physically capable. This is ageism. A yoga teacher who understands older adults understands that you have a lifetime of experience, collected wisdom, and gifts to share.
My hope is that you are excited about experiencing the benefits of yoga for yourself. Through this article, we have barely scratched the surface of what yoga is about and how it can help you to age comfortably while thriving. It’s up to you to dig deeper.
About the Author
My name is Travis Friot and I am the owner of Yoga For Health And Aging. As a registered yoga teacher, through Yoga Alliance, I teach to older adults and people living with dementia. I am a graduate of the Yoga For Seniors Professional Training at Duke Integrative Medicine.