Seniors Join YJ Talent Search

Residents of an assisted care facility in New Mexico who do chair yoga join Yoga Journal's Talent Search.
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Residents of an assisted care facility in New Mexico who do chair yoga join Yoga Journal's Talent Search.

Like many yoga students, Andreas "Red" Laumbach looks forward to his yoga class every week. But he's not your typical yoga student, and his class isn't your typical yoga class.

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Red is 100 years old, and the class he frequents is a chair yoga class designed for him and other students who have unique health challenges due to advanced age at Beehive Assisted Living community in Albuquerque. It might not be what people first think of when they think of yoga, but the benefits are just as great.

"There are no limits because of my age and yoga keeps me going," Red said.

Ninety-six-year-old Katheryn Christensen agrees. She likes yoga because it helps with her flexibility and makes her feel healthier, and it also gives her an opportunity to socialize with other residents.

Yoga teacher Sue McKnight has seen the chair yoga class she teaches at the center improve the quality of life and the health of many of her senior students—those who have survived strokes, have Parkinson's Disease, suffer from dementia, hearing and vision impairments, amputees, mobility issues, advanced age. So when she came across the Yoga Journal's Second Annual Talent Search, she knew it would be a great place to show the world a different side of yoga.

"I thought, will we win? Probably not. But we've got to share what we're doing," she told Buzz. She is submitting pictures of her elderly students in their favorite modifications of poses to the Talent Search and using their own words to describe how the practice is helping them. Last week, she posted the first five, but she plans to post approximately 20 more in the coming weeks.

McKnight hopes that the pictures will inspire other yoga teachers to learn more about serving aging populations to help fulfill a vast and growing need in their communities. "There needs to be more teachers like me who bring yoga to people who don't know how good it can be for them, and who can't go out and get it," she said.