Gentle Yoga: Class designed to help those age 50 and older with strength, flexibility

Published on Friday, 21 February 2014 23:37 - Written by Kelly Gooch

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Calming music comes on as participants begin a gentle yoga class this past week at the Tyler Senior Center.

The group is told to roll their spine and then to relax their shoulders. They later do arm circles and use an elasticity strap to do a boat pose.

It’s all part of the class, designed to help those age 50 and older with strength, flexibility and balance. The class, taught by registered yoga instructor Ryann Martin, is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“It’s very difficult to find a chair yoga class and we are one of the few places in East Texas to offer it,” Tyler Senior Supervisor Kay Odom said in a news release. “We have a very special teacher who really understands the special needs of seniors.

Ms. Martin encourages her students to work at their own pace and as an added benefit we are able to offer these classes in the afternoon, at a time that’s convenient for seniors.”

The gentle yoga class initially began in July.

When it was first offered at the Tyler Senior Center, she didn’t know how the class would be received, Mrs. Odom said.

She said 13 or 14 participants came at first, and some didn’t return because getting on the floor was hard for them. However, she said the class is now modified where participants can use a chair if they need to or want to.

“I think seniors are going to look at this modification and go ‘Wow. I may be able to go to this yoga class.’ I think it’s a great way to approach it for seniors,” Mrs. Odom said.

She said she believes people are more in control of their body movements while doing yoga than they are during other exercise classes.

“I just think that the yoga offers so much more flexibility and certainly strengthening and toning,” she said.

She said yoga also is a great brain workout and can be a social time.

Overall, she considers gentle yoga “a gift they (participants) give themselves.”

Ms. Martin said what she enjoys most about teaching the gentle yoga is making it a fun class.

She said she incorporates easy poses, along with poses that involve more movement.

“We can take it at a pace that’s easy and manageable for everybody,” Ms. Martin said.

“Even though the words sound scary, you can really … customize,” she added.

Patrick Odom has been coming to the class for months.

The 66-year-old said it has been a challenge understanding poses and getting into the correct pose, but he enjoys that his flexibility has improved.

Martha Morrill, 72, said she too loves the class, and it provides great exercise.

She said it is also a stress reliever.

Claudia Jones, 56, has been coming to gentle yoga since it began.

She said she enjoys the exercises and feels good afterward.

“This is my ‘me’ time. This is what I do for me,” Ms. Jones said.

Tuesday was the first time for June Stephens to attend the class.

Ms. Stephens, 75, said she did yoga years ago and decided to come.

Aside from gentle yoga, other classes offered at the Tyler Senior Center include clogging, line dancing and Texercise.

For more information about any of the classes, call 903-597-0781.