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What type of yoga is best for older adults? – Our New Oscott Village yoga instructor explains!

In honour of International Day of Yoga, we had a chat with our New Oscott Retirement Village Yoga Instructor Denise, discussing her 20 year journey from an overly busy mind to teaching the art of relaxation through the many forms of yoga.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

“My name is Denise and I have been practicing Yoga for over 20 years. I started going to Sivananda Yoga classes when I was 18 years old.”

What made you take up yoga?

“I found that it calmed my busy mind, allowing me to relax and I also found that I enjoyed the movement aspect too. I later found a teacher who introduced me to meditation and the philosophy of Yoga and who encouraged me to start teaching.”

How long you have been teaching?

“I have been teaching Yoga (in its many forms) for 14 years. I have always taught classes out in the community and my sessions range from more movement-based flow styles (vinyasa) to gentler Hatha Yoga classes with lots of breath work and relaxation. I also teach seated Yoga, trauma-informed Yoga and more recently Qigong. I have been running seated Yoga sessions at New Oscott Village since last year.”

How many styles of yoga are there?

“There are many paths, styles and schools of Yoga. More modern styles are based a lot more around the physical positions (Asana) yet will hopefully also include breathing techniques (pranayama), meditation, relaxation and Yoga philosophy. Yoga guides us to live a peaceful, kind, honest and liberated life.

Hatha Yoga has its roots in South Asia and Yoga was mentioned in many classical Indian texts through the centuries. Over time different practices were added, others fell away. There has been lots of evidence that Yoga movements have also been found documented in ancient Egypt (Kemetic Yoga). Tibet, China and many ancient cultures also used chanting, meditation and energy work similar to what is practiced in Yoga.”

What’s your favourite form to practice and teach?

“I love teaching seated Yoga as those who come to the classes are very open and love exploring the practices. These sessions always have a beautiful atmosphere and I learn so much too. I also enjoy teaching courses and workshops for students wanting to learn a little more about Yoga and its philosophy.”

What are the physical and mental benefits of yoga for older adults?

“The wonderful health benefits of Yoga can be experienced by all – sessions can be adapted and varied. Lots of my own sessions are worked from a chair which can really be helpful for older adults, those recovering from illness or those with mobility concerns. There are many options for the positions and you will always be given the opportunity to rest or go at your own pace.

Breathing techniques can help with anxiety and boost energy but they can also relax and calm the nervous system. Meditation can calm yet focus the mind and there are many tips for relaxation which can help with sleep and stress.

There are many studies that show how Yoga can be beneficial for people living with dementia, Parkinson’s and for adults recovering from strokes. Yoga classes can be a great way to meet others, learn techniques to help boost energy and relax, bring mobility to your body in a safe way and learn new things. We also laugh a lot!”