Not Just for Twenty-Somethings in Spandex: Teaching Yoga to Seniors

by | Jan 13, 2018

If you teach older adults – or have thought about teaching seniors – you may want to check out the new book by Kimberly Carlson and Carol Krucoff, the amazing instructors of our Teaching Yoga to Seniors certificate training.

Managing the emotional and physical challenges that come with aging can be difficult. But as Carol notes, “If you think yoga is just for twenty-somethings in spandex, think again. All you need to do to be able to practice yoga is to breathe.”

Seniors, of course, face a number of age-related issues, such as chronic pain, hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, and anxiety, and depression. But there is a growing body of evidence that suggests yoga can be beneficial for a wide variety of age-related ailments.

Hence, Kimberly’s and Carol’s book Relax into Yoga for Seniors.

Here’s a sample lesson plan video from their book that they’ll be teaching in our upcoming workshop, March 1 – 4 here in Portland, Oregon:

In the blog post below, Kimberly expands on the special considerations that come with teaching this exceptional population.


Growing a beautiful, productive garden is more complex than just supplying water, appropriate sunlight and good soil. Among other things, you must consider the effects of neighboring plants.

Helping children grow is similarly complex. As teachers, counselors and therapists are intimately aware, working with children also requires consideration of the conditions of the community surrounding the child.

The health and balance of the family, as well as of the educators, all can influence how well the child thrives.

Generation-004Yoga Calm aims to serve this community of familial and professional adults, as well the children. With this intention, Yoga Calm is committed to making its practices safe and effective for everyone across the lifespan.

Advances in healthcare and technology over the last century have created the possibility of enjoying many more years of this beautiful life. In fact, the average life expectancy in 1900 was around 47; now, it is around 77. However, with almost a quarter of us expected to live to 100 by the year 2050, we find ourselves with a historically unique challenge of learning how to best honor ourselves as we accrue even more years on the planet.

Not surprisingly, many activities quite appealing to us when we are younger may become less suitable for our maturing bodies and minds. In grade school, we may have adored cookies and juice as an afternoon snack. As adults, we may find we fare better with a more nutritious choice.

Our yoga practice can also benefit from important refinements as we change across the lifespan. Many practices that felt well suited to us in our 20s may not be as appropriate as we move through our 50s, 60s or 70s. Changes in our physiology as we age compel us to consider more carefully the choices we make for our bodies.

Teaching Yoga to Seniors – Essential Considerations

Introducing yoga to older adults is an inspiring process that helps clarify these choices. Maintaining strength, balance and a calm mental focus are critical life skills for maintaining optimal quality of life. The practices, however, must be considered in the context of aging bodies and minds to avoid the potential for considerable harm.

For example, the load on the vascular system and the heart with even mild inversions must be carefully considered in older bodies. Where osteoporosis or low bone mass are concerned, it is critical to consider how movements load the spine.

Several years ago, we published a paper in the Journal of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine which addresses some of the important issues to consider when introducing yoga to older adults. If you would like a PDF reprint of this article, click here.

Yoga Calm is committed to training educators in the most safe and effective methods for using yoga-based skills, regardless of one’s phase along the life span. The new Teaching Yoga to Seniors certificate training course is for those planning on teaching Seniors and Special Populations. This pioneering program combines the best of modern, evidenced based medicine with the ancient wisdom,.

Kimberly Carson, MPH, eRYT, and Carol Krucoff, eRYT, will bring their Yoga for Seniors Teacher Training to Portland on March 1-4, 2018. This training has been offered at Duke Integrative Medicine since 2007 and at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health since 2010. The Portland training is the only one on the west coast of this pioneering program.

Do you teach therapeutic movement to seniors or are you an RYT who’s ready to take Kimberly’s and Carol’s one-of-a-kind certificate course yourself? Register now!


Kimberly-Carson-headshot_2Kimberly Carson, MPH, eRYT, is a is a yoga therapist at Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) and Duke Integrative Medicine, where she teaches their Yoga for Seniors program. Kimberly has taught Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction as developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at OHSU and the Knight Cancer Institute, Duke Medical Center, University of North Carolina Hospitals, and the University of Florida. Kimberly also coauthored studies at Duke University Medical Center using yoga and meditation for patients with chronic low-back pain, metastatic breast cancer pain, and menopausal symptoms. 

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