Seniors Challenge Yoga Stereotype

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 Sherry Campbell Bechtold and Laura Peters Photo by Sonya Myers

Sherry Campbell Bechtold and Laura Peters Photo by Sonya Myers

Tao Porchon-Lynch. Dharma Mittra. Lilias Folan. Some of our most knowledgeable and inspiring yoga teachers aren't pushing their bodies to the edge with endless vinyasas or ever-more-acrobatic practices. Their yoga keeps them healthy and fit and they get to enjoy well-deserved senior discounts.

Of course, these yogi elders were part of the wave that has made yoga the widely popular practice it is today. But not everyone over age 60 has been at it for decades. More and more seniors and late-middle-aged folks are turning to yoga to help them stay healthy and active for longer into their golden years. Take, for example, the teacher training class at The Yoga Sanctuary in Punta Gorda, Florida, where all but three students are in their 50s and 60s.

"We think the world should know that one does not have to be 20, gorgeous, and a super athlete to do or teach yoga," said Sherry Campbell Bechtold, 67. "We want to spread the word to other seniors to get to the mat!"

Yoga helped Campbell Bechtold cope with scoliosis so severe that even walking was a challenge. She was inspired to become a yoga teacher to be an example for others who might think that yoga isn’t for them. “I felt that, if they saw me, a senior, with significant physical challenges, doing yoga, and feeling well, then perhaps they might give it a try.”

Laura Peters, 64, also started yoga to help her with a medical condition: a tick bite that caused her to lose her balance and forced her into retirement when she was in her 50s. “I had no intentions to teach when I began the program, but now, with my new-found understanding, I want to help those who need a push to feel better physically and to feel better inside as well,” she told Buzz.

Does having more life experience make you a better yoga teacher? Not necessarily, says Bechtold. "Knowing how to help students approach yoga from wherever they are in their lives, ensuring their safety and with the goal of improving students' quality of life, that is what makes a good teacher whether 20 or 80—it's not an age thing."

We couldn’t agree more.