18 May 2014
Plans to teach yoga at a local senior center has me thinking about how to best compassionately address the issues and limitations many seniors must endure. The desire to stretch, build strength, maintain flexibility and balance are important, and are all items of concern, especially as we grow older. As far as I can see, offering Gentle Stretch classes, with modifications using chairs, seems a good way to approach this topic. Incorporating the yoga of laughter seems an excellent addition, even if this kind of yoga is decidedly non-traditional.
Yoga classes offering Gentle Stretch sequences, with appropriate modifications, depending on individuals’ needs, satisfy the usual expectations for a yoga class. Using a chair to enable participation for individuals who want to engage in yoga, but are not able to do so in a more traditional mat class, can be empowering. Participants who use props, including blocks, towels, straps, bolsters, or chairs, are able to enjoy the benefits of yoga, along with more able-bodied individuals.
Adding Laughter sequences may be non-traditional, but we all know how good it feels to enjoy a hearty belly laugh from time to time. As has been noted by many, including luminaries like Norman Cousins, laughter can lower blood pressure, reduce the deleterious effect of stress in the body, and can improve social interactions. So it is that I am starting to learn how to introduce laughter and breathing exercises into the yoga classes I offer. Yoga is about living fully in the present, and nothing is more in the present than laughing in a social setting.