Fitness Magazine

A Full Spectrum of Poses and Practices

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Nina

One of the reasons I started the Photo of the Day project on Facebook was because of the way older people are typically portrayed in the media: almost always doing chair yoga! So I wanted to let the world know (and see with their own eyes) that many older people are capable of way more than that. And I was able to share so many inspiring photos! Check out this photo of a woman who is over 100:

A Full Spectrum of Poses and Practices

Nonnina Vittoria, Age 101

But lately as I’ve been talking with people who aren’t familiar with the blog or haven’t yet read the book, I realize they assume that when I'm talking about "yoga for healthy aging" that I’m referring to “yoga for seniors” and that their images of what I mean by that don't at all resemble the kinds of yoga poses and practices that we actually recommend practicing for healthy aging. Of course, I realize that you, our readers, know all about what people of all ages you are capable of and how you yourself actually practice at yoga, but I think there’s a big gap out there in the way the world age large perceives the options there are for people fifty and over (or maybe even forty and over). It’s almost like for many people it’s a choice between a power yoga class full of sweaty young people or a chair yoga class in a retirement community, with nothing in between. So lately I’ve been on a mission to address that gap and talk as much as I can about the FULL SPECTRUM of options that are available to people of all ages and levels of abilities. And I’ve also been talking about how essential it is not to limit older people to chair yoga because of the importance of helping everyone maintain both the ability to balance as well as to get up and down from the floor as they age (Of course, for those who cannot stand and/or are unable to get up and down from the chair yoga is a godsend and this type of practice is an essential part of the FULL SPECTRUM.) I use Tree pose as an example. For people who are unable to stand, the options of doing Tree pose on the floor or in a chair are wonderful. However, for people who CAN stand, it’s essential for them to get on their feet to work on balance, however gently. Fortunately there are so many variations of Tree pose to choose from—a full spectrum, indeed. Here are some from Jivana's post Tree Pose Variations for Every Body
A Full Spectrum of Poses and Practices
A Full Spectrum of Poses and Practices
A Full Spectrum of Poses and Practices

And in our post Featured Pose: Tree Pose, we have four more options: 
A Full Spectrum of Poses and Practices
A Full Spectrum of Poses and Practices
A Full Spectrum of Poses and Practices
A Full Spectrum of Poses and Practices

I know there are a lot of other variations as well. (It would be fun to collect them, so if you have one I don’t have, send me a photo at nina at wanderingmind dot com.) I realize that a lot of teachers are actually teaching using the FULL SPECTRUM technique because they are observant and willing to meet each student where they are on a given day, but because I had the experience of talking to a teacher who does teach this way but who yet assumed that yoga for healthy aging was the same as chair yoga for seniors, I decided I wanted to explicitly present this idea of the FULL SPECTRUM of poses and practices. Just as no two people are alike, no two people will age in the same way or at the same rate. So practicing yoga for healthy aging means taking advantage of the FULL SPECTRUM of yoga poses and practices by doing what suits you on a given day. After all, no matter how old you are, with practice, you can work on maintaining your abilities and there is always the chance of improvement. Subscribe to Yoga for Healthy Aging by Email ° Follow Yoga for Healthy Aging on Facebook and Twitter ° To order Yoga for Healthy Aging: A Guide to Lifelong Well-Being, go to AmazonShambhalaIndie Boundor your local bookstore.

For information about Nina's upcoming workshops and retreats and other activities, see Nina's Workshops, Book Signings, and Books.

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