Last Friday, I completed the Senior YogaFit training in Montreal. I am happy to let all of my students know that though I work with people ages 50 and up, this training was really geared toward individuals with serious health concerns and mobility limitations. The students who attend my classes are very fit and quite mobile.
The course taught us how to bring yoga to people who would otherwise avoid it because most yoga classes take place on the mat, in bare feet. There is a huge percentage of the population who avoids getting down on the floor for fear that they will not be able to get up! There are those who have pain in their feet and must use orthotics at all times to be balanced. It was refreshing to learn how to use various props in order to help these clients benefit from yoga postures.
We used a chair for the most of the course and though I already teach and use many of the ideas presented, I did pick up a few new ideas. One of the students (teachers) was overjoyed to experienced yoga postures that did not put so much pressure on her knees and legs. She said that she was practically in tears when we were doing the Warrior poses seated! She was able to concentrate on expanding and stretching her upper body, instead of focusing on the pain in her legs.
This is the best part of YogaFit. As teachers we are taught to make the pose fit the body, not the body fit the pose. We do not push our clients into complicated postures if they are not flexible or fit enough and we do not make them feel badly if they cannot achieve the ‘perfect downward facing dog!’ Instead we encourage the use of blocks, chairs, blankets, bolsters and straps to bring the joy of yoga to everybody.
This is why I call my yoga classes, Yoga Stretch. As a personal trainer and fitness instructor, I know the benefits of yoga and how important it is to be flexible. While we will do some typical yoga postures and sequences, my yoga class feels quite different from the traditional yoga experience. I see clients daily who are in chronic pain from having lived a full and exciting life. Most people have one spot or another on their body that gives them some sort of trouble. My goal is to relieve the stress that comes from dealing with pain, by teaching a class that is centered on making the student feel capable and successful. Using props and chairs enables everyone to feel that they can achieve yoga poses.
If there comes a time when you yourself suffer an injury or develop a condition that limits your mobility, do not be afraid to use props or the chair for your yoga practice. You will love it, I promise.
Have a wonderful day!