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Forever Young

Make these the best years of your life, with a yoga practice that increases flexibility, reduces aches and pains, and leaves you feeling forever young.

By Lorie A. Parch

Patricia Bearden, our 70-year-old model on these pages, is a longtime yogi and med-tator who continues to take her practice seriously: She left the photo shoot and headed straight to a weeklong silent meditation retreat.

Bearden has traveled to India five times, including the year she was a resident of an ashram, and did teacher trainings in the Sivananda tradition in the '80s and '90s. She says her practices have helped her maintain active outdoor interests—including, biking, tennis, swimming, and snorkeling—as well as keep up with Malena, her energetic six-year-old granddaughter. "I used to practice poses from Yoga Journal in my living room in the 1970s," says Bearden (who is also the mother of Kaitlin Quistgaard, editor in chief of Yoga Journal). "It's true that yoga and meditation really are for everybody and help you stay healthy and balanced."

Sequence Kimberly Carson and Carol Krucoff, co-directors of Duke Integrative Medicine's Yoga Therapy Intensive "Teaching Yoga to Seniors."

Seniors are often dealing with myriad concerns—such as stiff muscles, arthritis pain, high blood pressure, and joint replacement. The way that you practice can be as important as what you practice. It's essential to cultivate and practice ahimsa (nonviolence) and noncompetitiveness and to give yourself permission to rest when needed. Yoga shouldn't hurt—so make any modifications necessary to fit the pose to your body, rather than try to fit your body into the pose. Challenge yourself, but don't ever strain!

As the body becomes more rigid with age, it's important to cultivate softness and suppleness. Link your movements with your breath and minimize static "holdings." Be sure to end your practice by relaxing for at least five minutes in Savasana (Corpse Pose).

Props needed Sturdy chair, strap, and wall.

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Reader Comments

Christine

I have been diagnosed with stage 1 cervix prolapse. Does doing shoulder stand improve the cervix prolapse condition?

silvidi

I began practicing yoga in my 50's and now at the age of 68 I am working on my 500 hr. RYT.

Cassandra Miller

I am looking for a gentle yoga class for someone with arthritis in Seattle - does anyone know of one? I also have some pretty bad injurys to contend with and really need to get into a class.

Thanks!

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