Finding My Calling Through Working With Seniorsby Rachel Baer | 16/07/2019
I first came to work with seniors and teach chair yoga while subbing for a six-week session. I had fortunately taken the “seniors” YogaFit training just two weeks before I had this opportunity and was able to say yes. I had never really thought of teaching seniors, and I took the training to learn modifications and adaptations for those with physical limitations who came to my regular mat yoga classes. I had never really considered teaching chair yoga as a class in and of itself.
Although I was nervous and found it challenging at first (it’s sometimes hard going in as a sub) I was blown away by the amazing healing qualities I saw chair yoga bring my clients. Ranging in age from 55 to 97, my clients experienced more ease, less stiffness and pain in their joints, a greater range of motion, improved balance and strength as well as other benefits. It’s such a thrill to see people realize that they can do yoga – the pose may be adapted but that’s ok. They are moving more, breathing deeper and even doing a short meditation at the end of class.
I have had many of my clients tell me of specific improvements , one of the most moving being a woman who after only a few sessions of chair yoga was able to lift herself out of the bathtub for the first time in over two years after undergoing several back surgeries. This same woman used to be a yoga instructor and had first come to class not expecting to be able to do many of the poses. The delight on her face when she realized she could still do what she loved was heartwarming. Another was a woman who was able to go with her family on a trip to London which she would never have been strong enough to commit to before yoga. I recently had the husband of a regular yogi attend several classes as his family were getting together for a reunion & were doing a wall squat challenge. This man was so proud to report that he won the challenge because of the strength poses we do in class. These are huge differences in our client’s lives, I feel so grateful to have the knowledge through my YogaFit training to be able to help make such a difference each day.
The six-week subbing session turned into a regular class for me. Within 18 months the class had more than doubled in size and another session was added. I now teach two classes back to back.
I was so impressed with the life improvements yoga brought to this age group that I have since taken more training, wanting to learn as much as I can to help these lovely people while keeping the sessions lighthearted and fun.
Almost every week I am humbled and still find it incredible that I can have a hand in helping to improve the quality of so many lives,
I truly believe that I have found my calling: to work with seniors and those with specific health conditions. I’ve found that less can often mean more, as it’s often the smaller movements that can bring unexpected relief and healing, such as hand and wrist movements, which improve mobility to stiff, arthritic joints. I currently teach four of these classes a week also offering a workshop once a month to go deeper into specific areas of the body. I offer a posture and pain relief session as one of these sessions.
Over the past seven years I have been focused only on chair yoga I have become very fond of many of my clients, learning about their lives and families, doing my part to bring life, hope, healing and acceptance to a group that can often be forgotten by the regular world of yoga.
For years I have had a very difficult relationship with my own mother which is slowly improving, I have found working with seniors this closely has been an incredible way of healing for me.
I hope my experience helps encourage other instructors to explore chair yoga and its ability to bring health and healing to the older population. Thank you for reading.
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