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Dean Lerner’s Reply:
There are many poses that will help your 70-year-old student tone and lose weight. The following program will get her started in a positive way.
I suggest you begin her practice with standing poses performed with support. Standing poses develop strength, stamina, balance, and mental concentration. Additionally, they will help her gain tone and lose weight. You can direct special attention to proper alignment and movement in the poses if she is using a support. This will help her build confidence, improve her freedom of movement, and alleviate her knee pain. Specifically, she can do Virabhadrasana I and II (Warrior I and II Pose), Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose), Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose), Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose), and Prasarita Padottanasana (Intense Spread Leg Stretch) according to her capacity, using a yoga horse, wall ropes, the wall, or a chair for support. Initially, she need not hold the standing poses for a long time, but she should repeat them several times instead.
Follow the standing poses with fundamental seated poses, again with sufficient support to enable her to achieve proper posture and alignment. Supported Virasana (Hero Pose) with a block under the buttocks, Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with a blanket behind the knees, Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), and Sukhasana (Easy Pose) will all be helpful to refresh her legs, open her hips, and relieve her knees. Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose) can then follow, along with a few of the seated poses with twists. She can twist in simple cross-legged position, in Bharadvajasana I (Bharadvaja’s Twist) on the floor (with a blanket support), or seated in a chair. Repeated several times each session, these will help reduce the waistline.
Finish the practice with supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) on blankets or a bolster, Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose), and, lastly, Savasana (Corpse Pose). This practice will lay a solid foundation for her to reach her goal and will leave her confident and refreshed. Of course, many factors affect weight loss. Most obviously, a moderate, healthy diet should accompany a regular yoga practice.
Certified Advanced Iyengar instructor Dean Lerner is co-director of the Center for Well-being in Lemont, Pennsylvania and teaches workshop across the United States. He is a longtime student of B.K.S. Iyengar and served a four-year term as president of the Iyengar National Association of the United States. Known for his ability to teach yoga with clarity and precision, as well as warmth and humor, Dean has conducted teacher training classes at Feathered Pipe Ranch in Montana and other locations.