Yoga is for all ages. From babies to children from adults to elderly, the practice of yoga appeals to all ages and all shapes and sizes. Though commonly thought of as a fad for the 20-40 set, the practice of yoga covers all ends of the spectrum.
As if to prove my point, my three-year-old daughter, bored with me, turned and walked into the center of the room. There she moved her body, on the hard wood floor (sans mat or special clothing!!), into a picture perfect plank pose. I kept watching, though carefully, she is not one to be the center of attention. From plank pose she slid forward over her wrists into urdhva mukha svanasana (upward facing dog), then back seamlessly into adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog). Now with her back to me and her head looking my way, she caught my gaze and raised one leg high in the air and let out a “woof.” “Pee pee doggy,” she said with a giggle, got up, and walked up the stairs. It was over almost as quickly as it began. My child was practicing asana.
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This is not an uncommon occurrence at our house where yoga is part of our everyday lives. Twice a year for six weeks, the girls (3 and 6) attend kids yoga classes at the local yoga studio and the rest of the time they practice with DVDs, books and general observation of Mom. We chant before our meals, and meditate together often. I volunteer in my six-year-old daughter’s first grade class teaching yoga once a month. What might have seemed taboo to many of us as children is becoming accepted and even welcomed among teachers and parents alike.
The same is true for the over 60 population. Research is proving that movement activities like yoga are essential for mobility and health as we age. And though many older people have laughed at the thought of yoga in the past, many of these same doubters now attend classes weekly. There is research to support that yoga significantly increases balance and stability for those over 65, and in Lincoln, NB, Alzheimer’s patients are enjoying an improved quality of life thanks to the addition of yoga asana into their routine.
When my mother retired ten years ago, she started doing yoga for the first time. In the time since, she has utilized the practice to gain more strength and balance and to assist in recovery from a stroke. She says “the euphoric feeling that I have after practicing yoga is well worth any effort it takes for me to get to class.” And for a population that is faced with the ongoing challenges associated with aging, Yoga might very well be a salve not only for the body, but for the mind as well.
To find a yoga class for kids or seniors, check the schedules of the local studios. Gentle and restorative yoga are great places to begin if you are over 60 and trying yoga for the first time, but don’t limit yourself! Kids yoga and movement classes are becoming more and more prevalent as well. If your studio doesn’t offer any, contact your local recreation center or gym and express an interest! Kids in adult classes is not an ideal, so if no classes are offered in your area, try a DVD like YogaKids or Little Yogis and there are a variety of books for kids as well.
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