Senior Yoga Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 6

Teacher's Peek: Senior Yoga

5 min - Talk


Alana talks about her experience and process working with seniors and elderly.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

Jan 01, 2015
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(waves crashing) So, my first yoga class I was 15 and I walked up the stairs in the gym, and it happened to be a senior yoga class. And at the time, I just--at 15 I thought, "Well, yoga's for seniors, naturally." And it's ironic now in 2007 was my first experience with starting to teach yoga, and I had the opportunity to work with a mentor, Tucker Adams in Ojai, and I spent the first year, she was teaching senior yoga at Help of Ojai. And I spent the first year assisting her and I just--I was watching. Part of me was like, terrified, and part of me was just in awe of looking at the human body in this brand new way. And it really, for me it took the pressure off not needing to do anything or teach anything, but just to simply observe, watch, and witness the practice unfold.

And what was amazing, the opportunity to just be able to be with someone and be with them whether it's holding their feet or their breath, helping them find the breath in the ribcage, but I remember going back to the feet and at the time that felt like the safest place to be. Grounding the feet, and it gave me practice, really touching the body. So after about a year of observing and assisting I started to teach. And one of the things I noticed was that, they're working with arthritis, osteoporosis, stiff, achy joints, joint replacements, kind of reduced range of movement in the body. And it allowed me to really-- their pace was slow-paced, really allowed me to slow down and drop in and to be with them and to realize that we are no different and not to be afraid of working with an older population.

And so one of the things I really noticed was their attention to detail and the precision with instruction and this eagerness to really want to do exactly and literally what I was saying. So, I found myself really refining my language so that I could best serve and instruct. One of the things too I noticed was that I found myself needing to speak up a lot louder and to really articulate my words, which actually helped me as a teacher articulate my words very clear and precise. And to be almost literal with my instruction, without being rigid, but really tuning into the details of, "No, lift your toe, spread your toes wide apart. Lengthen up through the spine." And what I started to notice within myself was that there was an urgency that started to arise within the process of teaching.

This urgency of, "No, now, really. Time is of the essence. Let's do this together." So it's informed my teaching and my own practice and this quality of attention, alertness, sensitivity, deep listening, and just a willingness to continue on. And one of the things I really admire about with working with seniors and elderly and this group in particular that I've been working with, there's an eagerness and a dedication and what I love, what's been creating over the years is this community of yogis and there's this genuine love and support that's been created in the class. And the feedback, the stories I hear range from "I can put my pants on easier because I can balance on one leg and my hips feel more open." To, "I'm actually experiencing some joy in my heart or grief in my body, what is that?" And so there's this new questioning and inquiry that has come into the class.

And it's just been such an incredible privilege and opportunity, and so rewarding to work with this population. It's really been one of the highlights of my week. So, thank you. Namaste.


June S
2 people like this.
I was browsing this season for days when I don’t feel up to anything even bordering on an intense workout and stumbled onto this last video. What you learned from the seniors is exactly why your teaching is perfect for me. ♥️
Alana Mitnick
Hi June, I so appreciate your comments and participation. The learning is endless! So happy be in this together. With Love, Alana

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