Image via: Richard Perry/The New York Times
People think to do yoga you have to be flexible. But the flexibility is not in the body. It's in the mind. That's why anyone can do it.
Amen! As an expert stepping ever more deeply into the often misrepresented world of yoga (what? you can't wrap your ankle around your head?), it's always nice hearing such sagely words like those above from Ricardo Sisco. Sisco is an instructor who guides weekly chair yoga classes to seniors at New York's RAIN Inwood Senior Center. So too is it refreshing that Sisco is just one of several yoga instructors championing gentle yoga for elders, that the New York Times recently highlighted in their Health blog. Anyone following yoga in the media knows that the ancient practice is often positioned as a trend that only the affluent, limber, sexy, svelte, and hip are a part of. Long overdue, this new blog post increases the NYT's yoga street cred, helping to uproot the the idea of Hatha yoga as fad and brings it back to its true purpose. Among other things, it's a way to increase health and longevity.
After all, yoga for seniors offers a chock full of benefits: aiding with sounder sleep, increasing energy and muscular strength, reducing (if not preventing) arthritis, serving as therapy for old injuries, and helping aid respiration, to just name a few.
Recent science is also backing up the benefits:
...Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University found that after six months of yoga, people ages 65 to 85 could stand longer on one leg and gained flexibility...
A study led by Dr. Gail Greendale, a professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that six months of yoga helped reduce excessively rounded backs in people ages 65 to 90.
It's an exciting development--the idea that wallet- and eco-costly hospital treatments, prescription drugs and other matters that come with the aging process can be avoided through senior yoga. But even more, that with articles like this from the NYT, yoga, like the the green movement (for me, they're very much one in the same), can remain an open, all-inclusive club to all--even to those who can't touch their toes. We all deserve health.