A yoga therapist’s insights into making yoga accessible to seniors
Interest in yoga for seniors is growing, and understanding what this population needs to stay safe and engaged on the mat is crucial to their well-being.
Since 2007, yoga therapists Carol Krucoff, E-RYT 5OO, C-IAYT, and Kimberly Carson, MPH, C-IAYT, have developed a program geared toward making yoga accessible to seniors. Aiming to meet a growing interest from this population in yoga’s health and wellness benefits, the two created the Integrative Yoga for Seniors Professional Training. The program is housed within Duke Integrative Medicine and supports yoga professionals in building their knowledge of working with seniors.
In a recent article, Krucoff explains how seniors can benefit from practicing yoga.
“Seniors often come to the practice after hearing about yoga’s numerous health benefits—including improving blood pressure, heart rate and insulin resistance, relieving anxiety and depression, easing back pain, and alleviating sleep problems,” writes Krucoff. “And there is also a growing trend for health care providers to “prescribe” yoga as a complementary therapy to help prevent and treat a variety of medical conditions.”
Krucoff goes on to cite unique factors that warrant consideration by yoga professionals teaching seniors, and why specialized training supports safety and accessibility.
“Safety—the Yogic concept of “ahimsa” (non-harming)—is at the heart of our approach. We encourage older adults to challenge themselves but avoid strain, which can be complicated for yoga teachers trying to create classes for a population that includes such a wide array of abilities. While some seniors are extremely fit and able to run marathons, others are quite debilitated and unable to get out of bed. By virtue of age alone, even the fittest and vital older adults need to keep safety in mind—especially if they are new to the yoga practice—as seniors are more likely to have a medical condition that may increase their risk of injury.”
Of course, making yoga accessible to seniors is ultimately about empowerment. Krucoff explains that, “while our priority is creating a safe and welcoming environment for each student, it’s equally essential to ensure that this imperative of safety does not create a sense of fear or limitation. Rather, our focus is on inviting the empowering recognition of yoga’s highest teachings that our true nature is already whole.”
Find an IAYT-certified yoga therapist here.