Yoga for Seniors: The need for qualified yoga instructors


So why do we need to have special training in Senior Yoga?

Well let’s start with this idea. Does a 25 year old have the same physical and psychological needs/issues/conditions as a 10 year old? Does a 40 year old have the same needs/issues/conditions as a 70 year old? But in many fitness and yoga classes 60-85 plus year olds are all lumped into senior yoga. That is a span of 25 years or more. Like comparing a 20 year old with a 45 year old. Really?

The thing is, a 75 or 80 year old is facing physical issues that someone younger is not coping with such as advancing arthritis, loss of friends and loved ones, the talk by well meaning family members to “be careful, don’t fall, maybe you should move to a senior living center”. This is the reality of many seniors as they move towards end of life.

It’s imperative to have knowledge regarding certain diseases, conditions and contraindications of the aging population; to have understanding of the psycho-social issues they are coping with; how different drugs affect behavior and biology; and the language of compassion without pity. As yoga instructors, we need to offer realistic, effective and comprehensive methods to promote wellness in seniors. That is not just modifying a pose so it’s easier. Whether through asana, pranayama or meditation the purpose it to retain its integrity and effectiveness, otherwise it is simply an exercise program no different from any other.

Yoga Alliance has chosen not to have a specific certification in senior yoga, which I personally feel is not in the best interest of a population that is growing at the fastest rate in this country.  International Association of Yoga Therapists has addressed this issue and is beginning to recognize the need for standards of training.

The Senior Yoga training at The Yoga Connection offers an informative training on the biological, psychological and environmental issues of the aging population, to modify and design yoga asana/pranayama/meditation while maintaining effectivness, and how yoga in its full spectrum can bring health and wellness to seniors. Being able to teach yoga to seniors of differing abilities, living in diverse environments, coping with multiples of life issues, is rewarding to both teacher and senior student.