For the elderly, I’d imagine that at the latter end of life, you’re more interested in putting your feet up and watching the world go by. But even that could be construed as an antiquated (pun probably intended) stereotype!
In today’s world where not only has the retirement age in many countries been raised, but people are living longer (no doubt inter-related facts), more and more elderly citizens are igniting physical passions than ever before.
There has been a large rise in the number of elderly citizens in society over the past seven years. Since 2008, just over 50 years since the end of the Second World War, and therefore the age of retirement for the “baby-boom” generation; the demographic of our global population has tipped towards a retiring society, with younger generations left in a strange state of affairs, although that’s another article!
For the current population of retired/retiring citizens, what to do with their remaining years is no doubt high on the list of priorities, and with potential health crises at our fingertips; I think the Yoga community can take up some slack on that front!
What can be done?
I believe the Yoga community must reach out into retirement homes, community centres, even friends, families & neighbours, seeking to not only educate them about the benefits of Yoga, but to actively encourage them to practice. Once this connection and inclusion by the Yoga community can be internalised, much in the way Pilates or similar exercises are currently propagated across the world as “senior” activities, we can begin to expand on not only taboos of age, but celebrating the diversity that a range of ages and backgrounds would bring to us all.
Of course I’m not suggesting that this isn’t already commonplace in some areas, however it is a definite minority, and as we all know first-hand the benefits of yoga, it should fall to us to provide flexibility, increased health, inner confidence and a new lease of life to our elders, without whom of course none of us would be here.
According to the American Medical Association; 30 minutes of exercise per day is recommended to maximise the benefits of any exercise carried out by retirement age (65+) citizens. For the Yoga teachers amongst us who normally teach for an hour, this would not be difficult to fit into our class schedules, although it would certainly require either further teacher training, or attentive care that’s sensibly adapted for your students physical requirements.
This would also benefit the elderly spiritually. Imagine a world where the currently disillusioned elders, who for the most part seem to feel alienated and frightened of a modern and cacophonous world they no longer feel a part of, could regain their sense of self, build community around Yogic principles within their friendship groups or homes and come to terms with their existence.This would raise the level of global consciousness even further, which would prepare their souls perfectly for the next stage of incarnation; depending on your belief of course.
I’d highly recommend Googling ‘elderly yoga’ or ‘yoga in retirement homes’ to give you an idea of some of the projects and initiatives that are currently in place around the world, even drawing inspiration for projects you can set up in your own communities!