11. August 2018 – 13:00
Yoga for seniors
My mom does yoga as long as I can think. When I was 14 years old, she took me to a yoga weekend. I didn’t really understand yoga that time. But I really enjoyed it. I liked doing crazy things with my body, loved the headstand and the beautiful atmosphere. But when the class was about breathing exercises, meditation and relaxation, I never really new, what was going on. Suddenly, everyone just sat there and apparently did nothing for an eternity.
Now I am 27 years old, live in India, have a regular yoga practice, am a multi-educated yoga teacher, love Pranayama and understand meditation very well.
During the winter months I always come to Germany for a certain time to spend time with my family and friends.
When my grandma told me on one of these visits that she would do yoga once a week, I liked the idea, but at the same time was a little surprised. Getting involved in such an adventure as a 79-year-old is quite courageous. And yoga can be a very big adventure!
But some movement, strengthening and stretching would certainly do her good and if she also learns to relax actively, the better!
Of course, my grandma got a little nervous as she went toher first class and I decided to accompany her for her first class. Yoga for the elderly made me curious, as I don#t have much experience in this field.
But first we had to dress my grand ma appropiate. We looked for her leggings, found a nice blanket for the final relaxation and she wore her beautiful warm wool socks, which I had once brought her from India. So she felt comfortable and her first yoga class could begin.
Immediately we were greeted by Jana, the yoga teacher, and of course we were immediately informal and used our first name. Among yoga practitioners, this is quite normal, for my grandmother, rather unusual.
by now she had alread spread out her yoga mat and proudly told me that she had just learned which side to roll out the yoga mat on.
I helped her also getting a chir and pillow and wondered a little, whether my grandma would make it onto the mat at all. Actually, I had expected chair yoga. Because on my last attempt to do exercises with her at home, she refused to go on the flooe at all.
But the other yoga students in the room were all a little younger and almost all sat on their mats.
Grandma nevertheless sat on the chair and for the warm up with neck movements and wrist circles the chair did really well.
But then we went on to the mat. First, only for the standing exercise- the mountain pose. She learned to straighten herself up and to distribute her weight evenly on both feet. She fully followed the instructions of the yoga teacher and even closed her eyes. She hadn’t dared to do that during the initial exercises on the chair.
In her slightly tighter yoga attire, she looked quite petite and fragile, especially compared to the others.
With the balance exercise of the tree she had already a little more difficulties and felt demanded.. But she passed this challenge with bravura and did really well.
Then we went down to the mat. Quicly she was on all fours on the floor- I couldnt believe it! She did the child pose, made the cat-cow movement, came from the lying position into a bridge, did breathing exercises and even went into the dog at the end!
I was very surprised! Real asanas were practiced here and my grandma did all of them. Admittedly, they were simple asanas and they were never held for long, but the yoga teacher paid attention to a good orientation and for each student there were the appropriate aids to make the respective exercise as pleasant and suitable as possible. Therefore my grandma was pushed a pillow under her buttocks in the child’s pose and because she has problems with her hands, she made the cat-cow movement simply with fists.
I assisted my grandma a little bit, straightened her out a bit, but was mainly very impressed by her correct alignment!
I never thought it was possible for my grandma to get in the downward facing dog in her first yoga class.
At the end of the class the students had a few minutes of relaxation and said goodbye with a Namaste. Even Grandma got involved and put her hands together for the farewell greeting and told me after the claass how much she liked it and that she already knew some exercises from the physiotherapy!
She was now really relaxed and even had to take care to not fall asleep during the relaxation!
I was glad that she did so well in her first class. It was a pretty big step out of her comfort zone: new people, new terms and also exercises on the floor!
But such a step into the unknown is good and makes one proud. Today, my grandma has not only learned a lot of new things and done something good for her body, but now she is also going through the world a little more upright and radiates satisfaction. And that after the first class.
By the way, my grandma is taught by Jana Lustig from Mecklenburg Vorpommern. She is also a physiotherapist and therefore puts great importance to correct alignment. Learn more about her and her yoga classes here.