Is it possible that there is an underserved yoga population? Â It seems impossible that with celebrity yoga teachers, a gazillion dollar retail business and increasing stable of teachers, thereâ€˜s a portion of the population missing out. There is. Â This ignored group is between 40-something and 70-something years of age. Itâ€™s the largest part of the population and their yoga needs are not being met.
This left-out set Â is more active and adventurous than ever. Â However, that fact that the body is changing cannot be ignored. Â Many people in this age range are finding yoga for the first time and some have been practicing for decades. Â Although this group is more active, many are more sedentary. Just like the â€œweekend warriorsâ€ that sit all week then play touch football on the weekends, yoga is being used as a â€œwork-outâ€. Â Iâ€™m not saying this is bad, but for the 40+ population, this can lead to problems. Â The entire â€œyoga injuryâ€ topic is big and I wonâ€™t go into it. With 80% of the yoga classes being â€œflowâ€– often hot and fast, with mirrors and music and flexible young students–folks are getting injured. Â
Studios and teachers are often pressured in offering the fast-paced aerobic yoga, because thatâ€™s what is filling classes. Take a look at the students and most of them are young. If you are 40-something and older, you will be intimidated or discouraged or injured especially if thatâ€™s your first yoga class. Â Where is the yoga for the largest (and growing) part of the populations?
I recently listened to a podcast, Spirit Matters, which interviewed Larry Payne, PhD, yoga therapist, author, and co-founder of the International Association of Yoga Therapist. Â Dr. Payne feels that yoga has become a â€œgymnastic-thingâ€ with most of the classes being for what he calls, â€œthe young and restlessâ€. Â He wonders so where are the classes for this 40-something to 70-something group? Â He says you shouldnâ€™t have to go from â€œflow yogaâ€ to â€œchair yogaâ€. Â
Mr. Payne has developed and is offering a Prime of Life program which trains teachers to work with the over 40+ population and he says it doesnâ€™t have to be wussie yoga. His website, http://www.samata.com/, has a listing of teachers who are certified by him to teach his program. Â And, Iâ€™m happy to say that Iâ€™ll be one of them, as Iâ€™m attending his 50-hour training in San Francisco in January. Â
As I become older and my friends and students age, this growing gap has become more obvious to me. Â The older students I teach are strong, willing, plenty able and have excellent attitudes. Â And, they show up. Â Itâ€™s a joy to be able to offer yoga to them. Â All they need is a slower pace, more attention to safely moving in and out of poses, and plenty of modifications. Â Yoga is not a one-size fits all discipline. Â Studentsâ€™ ability, experience, health and bodies vary wildly. Â With the aging of the population, Iâ€™m encouraged to see problems like Larry Payneâ€™s cropping up to address this capable group. Â Â