I could keep this article really short and just write “because it’s amazing overall”. This would be true, but it would neither have any informative value, nor live up to all the aspects that make working with seniors so great.
Therefore, I’m going to go a little farther back and tell you how I got the idea of teaching yoga for seniors.
First of all, I was always fascinated by talking to elderly people. They can talk about times we will never be able to experience, and they have an impressive amount of life experience. This makes them awesome advisors, because they view the things you tell them from a totally different perspective. I always enjoyed having conversations with my grandparents, especially my grandma and I used to talk hours on the phone. When I was seventeen years old, I once did an internship in the city where my grandparents lived and stayed with them during those four weeks. Other teenagers might have thrown a fit if they had to live with two retirees for an entire month, but not me. I was looking forward to it and had an awesome time with both of them. My grandpa was the haven of tranquility and my grandma was caring granny and best friend rolled into one.
When my grandma passed away, my grandpa moved closer to my parents, but lived on his own for several years. It was only when dementia began to affect his everyday life and he started to need round-the-clock attention, that he moved into a nursery home. For many, this word has negative connotations to it, but I never experienced the place like that. It was a bright, friendly, clean building with cozy rooms, nice employees and open recreation areas, where the residents could spend time together. It was especially due to these areas that we met other residents when we visited my grandpa; people we soon started to like. During this time, yoga took up more and more space in my life and each time we saw my grandpa, I got ideas how he and the others could profit from this practice. I recognized: Once I’m done with my teacher training, I want to work with seniors and teach yoga to them.
As soon as I had my certificate, I wrote to different facilities for seniors and offered to teach chair yoga there. To my delight, I received a lot of interest and by now, I couldn’t imagine being without my “gang”. Each time when I am on my way home from the classes, my mood is better than before. Here are the top reasons why I love teaching my seniors:
Yoga in its purest form
There’s a saying that I love, and it goes “yoga is not about being good at something, but about being good to yourself”. In senior yoga classes, we live that saying. Here, the wellbeing is the focus, not who is most flexible or who has the nicest leggings. Furthermore, we prove that the claim that anyone can do yoga, regardless of age or physical conditions, is actually true.
A look into the future
The thought of getting older is scary to a lot of people.
In my classes, however, I see active, sociable seniors who go through life with enthusiasm and who live in a friendly home that offers them a lot of amenities. Even though I’m aware that this is not the standard for all seniors, it does show me how it can be, if you’re lucky. It shows me that there are positive aspects about every stage of life.
A new perspective
As previously stated, I find it nourishing to talk to elderly people. There is no class where we don’t chat a little before it or afterwards. This way, I get to hear interesting anecdotes from my yoginis’ life and their views on current events. Especially during the pandemic, it’s interesting to see how those older ladies are coping – with a remarkable calmness, serenity and patience. Unfortunately, you lose family members and friends more often when you grow older. Hearing stories about such losses makes my own problems seem a lot smaller.
Yoga for seniors is not teaching class after class where students come and go anonymously, as it might be the case at gyms sometimes. Genuine warmth is involved here: some students come to class early to chat a little, others stay afterwards for a little while. When they notice that the practice is good for them, they are thankful and delighted. Most of them have never done yoga before and are curious and fascinated – there’s hardly anything better for me as a teacher.
Can you see why I get positively excited before every class? Maybe the yoga teachers amongst you feel inspired to try teaching yoga for seniors after reading this article? But, no matter if you’re a teacher or not: leave your computer or smartphone now and call your grannies if you still have them. They will be happy – and you will enjoy it too 😊