Andrew Harmon


 

 

Yoga at Any Age, Yoga Anyone
 


“Yoga changed my golden years to a productive life filled with intense vitality; helping my body and limbs through a slow, patient process,”
~Mary S.

Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word, yuj, meaning to yoke or unite. There is an estimated 14.3 million people in America practicing yoga. My start in yoga happed out of necessity due to a car accident which took out my knee. There was the possibility of me being crippled for life, which left a soar taste in my mouth. I didn’t accept that diagnosis. Three surgeries and nine months of therapy I walked again.

I incorporated yoga techniques to supplement therapy I was receiving. I didn’t take it seriously until I used it for my mother, Hazel who was recovering from a fall which fractured her pelvis. As I watched her therapist, I had an idea. Why not apply the yoga stretches on her; even at the age of 74 she felt the difference, which helped the healing process. The word spread throughout the senior community and others wanted me to work with them. That’s when the idea came to teach elders.

As a caregiver to Hazel and my Aunt Connie, I couldn’t work a full-time job, yet I needed to bring in some income. I became certified in Hatha Yoga, a style which focuses on posture and alignment. My next step was to contact senior centers promoting this healthy approach to exercise. My first professional site was the Tioga Senior Center, then the company grew to include Life Programs at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing, Mercy Life and non-profit community organizations, but it was the girls at Tioga who helped form the name, Sassy Senior Yoginis.

Out of the estimated 16 million people practicing, 18.5% are over 55, according to Yoga Journal. They come for many reasons; the exercises or social activity, but true yoginis, woman practitioners, come for the long term benefits such as reducing stress, increasing fitness, flexibility, and balance, lowering blood pressure and maintaining mental stamina.

My clients are always glad to see me; always giving their best. For some seniors I do a gentle chair yoga routine, but the more nimble go directly to the mat, something as simple as learning how to get on the floor and getting up again, helps build confidence. For all of my clients the most important lesson is how to breathe correctly, this is key to the body, mind and support of the asana, or pose.

Yoga means the connecting of mind, body and spirit; it’s important for practitioners to understand the connection of their breath to their lives. Correct breathing really does help to reduce stress and anxiety and over a long period of time will burn calories and lower blood pressure. Most popular comment is how relaxed, yet invigorating they feel. When one is faced with a stressful condition, environment or person, my motto is to, “Stop, Drop and Breathe, when finished, you’ll have a more positive outlook.

Beginning a yoga practice is not difficult; anyone at any age or health condition can do it. Just do it with love. Namaste
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Kind Essence lives and runs a studio, Yoga Soul in Wynnefield. You may contact her at 856-287-7070 for class, workshop or retreat information.

 

 

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