Friday, January 20, 2012

Yoga for Seniors

Yoga is "the yoking of body, breath, and mind," according to Kathleen Olsen, RN, PhD.  Dr. Olsen, or "Kath," as she prefers to be called, shared a new way of looking at yoga as therapy. She started the NKA class off right away with a grounding exercise: our feet flat on the floor, deep breaths ("belly breathing") and listening quietly to our own bodies. Kath emphasized a key tenet of therapeutic yoga: the importance of "witnessing today and accepting what's happening in the moment."
Dr. Olsen received training in therapeutic yoga for seniors through Duke University's Integrative Health Program. This program combines the best of modern, evidence-based medicine with the ancient wisdom, experience, and tradition of yogic teachings. Kath shared the latest research findings about the benefits of including yoga in treatment plans for patients with arthritis, respiratory and cardiac issues, chronic pain, osteoporosis, and other related health problems. 
Kath stressed the "mindfulness" aspect of yoga practice and contrasted it with overly-strenuous, "no pain, no gain" exercise that is the model for many American exercise programs. "If something hurts you," she said, "you should stop doing it." Therapeutic yoga positions may be modified for those with less-flexible bodies and problems such as dizziness that occur as part of the aging process.

Dr. Olsen is a very busy professional: she has taught for 23 years at ISU and is currently offering weekly yoga classes through Mind Your Body, a local center for yoga, pilates, gyrokinesis, dance, and massage. 
There are approximately 2 million Americans over 55 years of age who are practicing yoga. If Kath's vivaciousness is a result of practicing therapeutic yoga, we should all sign up immediately!
Mind Your Body is located at 234 S. Main Street in Old Town Pocatello. Here's a link to their website: