Yoga With Seniors

senior yoga womanWhen I lived in California, I had a yoga membership at a local studio and could take all of the classes I wanted. It was pretty great. At my new home near Minneapolis, I’ve not yet found a yoga center that offers the classes I want at the times I need.

Luckily, over the holidays, I was paging through a community education catalog — everything from knitting to dance and parenting to cooking. In the fitness section was a list of affordable exercise classes, including one for moderate yoga. The class was just a mile from my house.


What I didn’t realize was that the class was held at our local senior center. Out of the 10 or so attendees, I’m the youngest by at least two decades. The age difference is the opposite of yoga classes I’ve taken in the past — normally, I’m on the older side, trying my hardest to keep up with the nimble and youthful participants.

I’m liking the role reversal. Liking it very much, actually. The class is also giving me a glimpse into what type of yogini I might be in the future. For example, I’ve learned that passing gas is very much like yawning. Once someone in class lets one loose, then it spreads like wildfire. No one seems to give a hoot, or should I say toot.

Gas is not the only noise that is made. Participants huff, puff and occasionally groan. They also talk freely. Every time we do the downward dog pose, Shirley tells a little story about her little terrier pup who loves to take walks in the snow. Inevitably, someone else has a dog story and that leads to yet another anecdote. Senior yoga is more casual, and everyone has a story to tell.

The students also don’t hold back. In last week’s class, a sweet grandma informed our teacher that she must talk louder, “My joints are making so many creaking sounds that I can’t hear you!” This week, the same woman muttered to no one in particular: “I yoga seniorsthink I just pulled something in my ass.” Someone replied, “Welcome to my world,” and five people responded “Amen” in unison.

Through it all, Annette, who teaches the class, speaks often about older people bringing wisdom and patience to yoga — something that is missing in her younger students. Annette is joyful when she teaches, and I have to say that most of the class participants seem pretty joyful as well. They are happy to be there and happy they are fit enough for the class, which is more strenuous than I had anticipated. Everyone tries their hardest and they smile and laugh through the poses.

Who can ask for more? I probably wouldn’t have signed up for this class had I realized it was at a senior center. But the class has been a great way to slide back into an exercise routine, and it has taught me yoga doesn’t have to be so serious and proper. You can turn decorum upside down and still have a great experience.



Nancy Wurtzel writes about making big changes at midlife in her blog Dating Dementia. Read about Nancy’s often humorous and sometimes twisted journey as a baby boomer, single woman, empty nester, feminist and caregiver.

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