Ageing Gracefully – Chair Yoga
As normal Kundalini Yoga classes can sometimes get too challenging or strenuous for those students whose bodies are getting older or who are less flexible or less-abled, I offer the alternative of Kundalini Yoga practiced on chairs (always with the option to practice on the floor for those who are comfortable on the floor for part of the class). This way, anyone who cannot easily sit or lie down on the floor can still reap the benefits of this excellent practice.
Seniors who are in excellent or moderate shape can generally attend normal classes without any problems – and just as variations are given for people with specific injuries, pregnant or menstruating women, beginners, etc., certain modifications can be given to elderly students for most or all exercises, depending on their individual needs – but Chair Yoga classes are more accommodating to the less flexible, those suffering from e.g. arthritis, knee problems, etc.
Specific Purposes and Benefits
The main purposes of Ageing Gracefully / Chair Yoga classes are to:
- help students minimize the unwelcome signs of ageing and deal with typical pains and aches
- help the senior student to perceive the ageing process as a benefit rather than a nuisance, and to welcome it as a process of deepening of knowledge and of human development.
This in turn can open the door to the student experiencing an inner transformation from pure physical strength to powerful wisdom and intuitive insight.
On the physical level there are four main objectives when teaching seniors:
- to help students maintain balance and coordination skills
- to help straighten the spine and increase its flexibility (as yogis say, a person’s age is not to be read from the years they have been on this earth, but from the flexibility of the spine)
- to expand the lung capacity through breathing exercises (pranayam)
- to constantly keep working out, renewing and rewiring the brain, even during the ageing process. This is mostly done via different hand postures (mudras), different types of eye focus (dhristi – e.g. focussing on the tip of the nose, the third eye point, the crown of the head, or the chin), the movement of the tongue against the upper palate in chanting mantras that work on the different glands in the brain (pituitary and pineal gland) as well as on the hypothalamus; and by bringing better coordination to the left and right brain hemispheres.
Focussing on these four areas ensures a much better quality of life when growing older. The fourth area is especially important in helping combat typical symptoms and diseases that often accompany ageing – such as loss of memory, strokes, Alzheimer’s, dementia, to name just a few. One particular KY meditation called Kirtan Kriya, which has been known to yogis for thousands of years, has recently been strongly promoted by the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation on their website and in a newsletter to all their members. http://www.alzheimersprevention.org/research/12-minute-memory-exercise contains a detailed description of the meditation. Clinical research has shown that practicing Kirtan Kriya for just 12 minutes a day can improve cognition and activate parts of the brain that are central to memory – and it can be practiced up to 31 and even 62 minutes a day.
Apart from these physical benefits, on a more subtle level yoga helps seniors to realign their lives, expectations and priorities in relation to the changing conditions and challenges of ageing. Yoga helps one to age gracefully and guides one in exploring qualities of character and integrity in the elder years (what in KY we poetically call ‘the Fall and Winter Season’). And finally, the yoga practice and underlying teachings also help elderly students (and any students, for that matter) come to terms with the inevitable end of life and find peace in this.
Duration of a class: 60 to 90 mins as preferred by the client.
Chair Yoga is also offered as group classes at our studio in Leicester, but runs only when we have a minimum of 3 people at any given time. You can however always book in for private classes.
There are many articles available that bear proof to the benefits for seniors of yoga in general and Kundalini Yoga in particular.
Here are a few interesting links:
https://goo.gl/yKP57I (written by myself)
If you are interested in organising a Chair Yoga class in your neighbourhood or community centre, nursing or care home, or anywhere else in Leicester, please Click here. I have already been running similar classes in the Day Centre of one of the Sikh temples in Leicester since April 2016.