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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Is Silver Sneakers Yoga only for, like, um, Seniors?

The easy answer is OF COURSE NOT!  It's a fusion of Vinyasa yoga, where movement is matched with breath, Iyangar yoga with deliberate (and liberal) use of props for pose accessibility and enhanced alignment, and Viniyoga, a therapeutic style of yoga that is designed to move the body and use the breath to help manage conditions and injuries.

Slide from the Tivity Silver Sneakers Yoga Training Program

This combination of styles can be both progressed (intensity increased) and regressed (intensity decreased) like every other format to work with each student's abilities as best as possible.

Like every yoga practice, we learn how to breathe not just in and out, but to coordinate movements to breath, and consciously control the breath cycles to both decrease stress and improve concentration.

We also work on functional movement practices like balance, muscular flexibility, skeletal range of motion, endurance, coordination, and cognitive health. The three yoga practices fused together can take us through a full range of asana (physical postures) and pranayama (breathwork) that help bring us into a state of santosha (contentment) with our bodies where they are on any given day, helping to create a state of not only physical wellness, but mental as well.

We start our classes in chairs, and include standing postures for those that can and want to incorporate them into their personal practice, but there is never an obligation to move beyond your individual safety zone. If someone utilizes a walking support and cannot move safely without one, or perhaps a wheelchair, there would never be a push to NOT use that tool; that would go against not only ahimsa (non-harming principle of yoga) but also would not follow both the concepts of Iyengar yoga which encourage the use of props (appropriate tools), as well as Viniyoga which says to manage your condition as needed with focus on the BREATH.

But these do not limit the practice to just people "of a certain age or physical condition." Of course traditionally these classes were designed (and paid for) as part of a 65 and older wellness program, as the improvements to quality of life from exercise have been well proven especially for those at that age. We all know that exercise at all ages has proven benefits, and (even) yoga in a chair based format can be invigorating as well as interesting (at least the way that I teach!) and restorative to body and mind.

The Silver Sneakers program now has opened many of its classes to people between the ages of 18 and 65. The program is called Tivity Prime Fitness and offers the benefits of having access to multiple fitness facilities as well as some off the Tivity Flex classes (like the ones I teach).  You can check to see if you are eligible (via your existing insurance and/or company benefit package) here: https://tools.primemember.com/Eligibility/CheckEligibility.

There is also a link to the facilities that accept the Prime membership (that is to say, you can go there "for free" as part of your Prime enrollment) - gyms like Crunch, Chuze, Rehab United, LA Fitness - provide you with amazing opportunities to get your fitness fix and not have to wait until you are 65. 

Remember that everyone is welcome at my Flex classes free of charge  regardless of fitness level, age, or experience with yoga. If you don't have the Silver Sneakers or Prime benefit, and my schedule doesn't match with yours, you can also check out the San Diego County and City Library websites for other free classes. Community Colleges, Oasis Adult Education, and the YMCA are also wonderful places to explore for a wide variety of wellness-based resources that might fit your budget.

So in conclusion, no, Silver Sneakers is not just for the silver haired. If your heart and mind are open to the experience, I encourage you to try some "Yoga Fusion" with me. It might just be a breath of fresh air.