Age is NOT a Four-Letter Word!

 

Nadine Kelly, M.D., Janet Rae Humphrey, Amy Kraft, Vanessa Earnst, Susan Schirm – All are Registered Yoga Teachers

Age Without Limits was one of two textbooks for The Art and Science of Teaching Chair Yoga – Age to Wellness.

Last October, I attended a yoga workshop entitled, “The Art and Science of Chair Yoga – Age to Wellness” tailored for teaching yoga to adults ages 50 – 100. I met two vibrant and inspirational women, (Janet Rae Humphrey, E-RYT and Amy Kraft, E-RYT) passionate about giving senior students wellness through yoga. I had the opportunity to observe them both teaching women and men in their sixties through nineties.

One class in particular was a revelation; the ladies began the class in chairs, but progressed to powerful flowing standing poses. Their stamina was revelatory. Their joy was palpable. There was a sense of camaraderie and playfulness, manifested by joking and easy laughter. Teacher and students moved with graceful precision and focus. Each glowing face was more proud and beautiful than the next.

After class, the students shared how long they had been doing yoga and how it helped them. They reported improved balance, flexibility, and strength. They found pain relief for various chronic conditions such as arthritis. They also talked about coming to class to be with friends to have fun. Finally, each person thanked the teacher for her respectful guidance and compassion.

I was profoundly moved and inspired by teacher and students. As a yogini dedicated to teaching baby boomers and beyond, the workshop further reinforced for me the numerous benefits of yoga to our growing aging population. Yoga is a safe way to stay healthy because the practice can be adapted to meet the physical demands of aging. Yoga also alleviates mental and emotional stress; the yoga practitioner is more capable of coping with change, such as loss and loneliness, more commonplace as the years progress. Yoga teachers can offer gentle adjustments in class to offer both physical support in poses and emotional support through touch to connect to the student.

But most of all, I witnessed determined women who are comfortable in their bodies. They embody wisdom and prove that growing older can be approached with acceptance and dignity. One student, who had never been physical and as just started yoga, proved it is never too late to start practicing to choose health. A young friend once told me he saw death when he was around seniors; I see life.

Nadine Kelly, MD

 

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