Yoga for Seniors

Whether you’ve been having trouble sleeping, your range of motion simply isn’t what it used to be, or you’re interested in deepening your spirituality and inner strength, it’s never too late to better your life. Become a happier, healthier version of yourself today by taking up a new pastime: yoga! First off, don’t get worried about the hype. Yoga is a discipline that anyone can get into—your age doesn’t matter and you will not be judged for how close you can come to touching your toes. With the right yoga teacher and a set of techniques that are built for individuals just like you, you can accomplish anything. Start the new chapter of your life today and you’ll be on the road to feeling even better tomorrow.

Yoga for Seniors: Build Your Outer and Inner Strength

yoga-for-seniors1Have you ever heard the saying that if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it? It may sound cliche, but those words ring very true—and in more areas of your life than one. From physical strength to mental sharpness, seniors who take part in yoga classes have proven to have the upper hand. Not only will they likely maintain their physical strength, mobility, and flexibility for much longer, but they can increase it as well.

If your body is feeling stiff and restrictive, yoga is the key to revitalization. The same goes with your brain. By meditating, practicing relaxation skills, and shielding your mind from the chatter and buzz of the chaotic world around you, you’ll be able to turn your thoughts inward, reflect, and become more attuned to your own body.

Keep Your Body Healthy and Disease at Bay

Yoga is a full mind and body practice, and while it will help to give you a peace of mind and even help you keep control of your weight, it can also keep a variety of chronic diseases at bay. If you are plagued with stress and hypertension, practicing yoga on a daily basis can decrease your nervous system’s activity, ease high blood pressure, and reduce the amount of medicine that you have to take. For those with a history of heart disease in their family, yoga can also help you reduce your risk factor. For those who are in the beginning stages of osteoporosis, yoga can also help to slow the thinning of your bones.

Practicing yoga as a senior can strengthen your body in countless ways, from alleviating depression and pain, to even depleting your bouts of insomnia. See how yoga can help you keep your own body healthy today!

Not All Classes are the Same. Find the Perfect One for Your Needs!

yoga-for-seniors2Beginning a new chapter in your life may seem a little bit daunting, but finding your bliss is most definitely worth it. To find the right class for you, there are two separate paths you can take. For the adventurous souls out there, you can begin by asking around about senior-focused yoga classes at your local community center, health club, or yoga studio. If you are more timid or you’re having a tough time finding the right class for your needs, you can bring your new pastime to the comfort of your own home by investing in a yoga DVD or two.

For example, one of the best yoga DVDs that I’ve come across for seniors who are just starting out is Pranamaya’s Relax Into Yoga for Seniors. yoga-for-seniors3Built on a foundation of ancient yoga practices and infused with the best of today’s modern, evidence-based medicine, Pranamaya’s yoga DVD for seniors features an array of gentle, effective practices that are easy for anyone to get immersed in, including sequences that are done from a standing position, seated position, and postures that are done when laying down.

Embrace the New You

No matter which path sounds right for you, we all have to start somewhere. It may be a big change when you’re first starting out, but when you start to see the benefits, you’ll wonder why you waited so long. Get out there today and start your own journey!

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Louise Clarke, a freelance writer from Los Angeles, California. When not chasing after her two small dogs, she spends her free time participating in outdoor yoga retreats in Venice Beach.

Meditate to Reset and Relax

A photo posted by Brian (@dailycupofyoga) on

There is a growing meditation movement happening around the world. Meditation is mainstream and no longer on the fringe. Hip-hop moguls are writing books about it, movie stars blog about it, the yoga studios are packing in stretched bodies with quiet minds. There is a long list of Western spiritual gurus spreading the word too. Balance is the word and meditation is the way to get it.

As stress builds up in our body, we begin to experience sickness, tension, and fatigue. Our emotions become strained and our mind fills with fear and negative thoughts. The convincing link between the mind and body is well established and health and wellness advocates in the medical profession promote reducing stress as a way to avoid disease.

According to mental health research, intense feelings of anxiety and stress can cause a nervous breakdown. The nerves don’t actually break, of course but it’s a signal to shut down and reset. We have become out of balance.

How to Reset:

Closing the eyes and limiting the sensory input will immediately start to slow things down. Deep breaths combined with a meditation exercise will lower the brain wave frequency to a synchronized, more focused level of mind.

Simply put, the brain is like a broadcasting and receiving transmitter running on electricity. Like a radio station it operates on different channels where one predominates at a time. Alpha waves were the first to be discovered by scientists due to its slower, more powerful signal. If hooked up to an EEG machine while meditating, it would register an alpha/theta reading depending on the depth of our meditation practice.

Meditation, due to its positive stress relieving side effects, is being considered as part of a prescription for a growing number of ailments that are physical, mental, emotional, or spiritually based.

The reset button isn’t just needed for excess. Balance needs to be reset due to a lack of something in our lives too. Meditation can fill a spiritual void where there is a lack of purpose, meaning, peace and love. When we move our awareness from the physical body, calm our emotions and still our thoughts, what remains? The answer to that question has ancient philosophers and New Age gurus searching through words to label something there are no words for. We just have to try it for ourselves.

There are many types of meditation to choose from. All paths lead to the same place of inner peace. Finding the one that fits our lifestyle is as important to our health as daily physical exercise. The mind and body are interconnected, so remember to apply the reset button to balance our inner work with our physical work out.

Sitting in silence can become a battle with what the Buddhists call, the ‘monkey mind’ as our thoughts jump from one branch to another, interrupting the flow of peace. A great way to start meditating is with a guided meditation. The benefits are many and even the most experienced meditator will always benefit from a little guidance that can lead us gently to that peaceful place in an efficient manner.

Focusing on a mental picture is similar to focusing on a mantra or on the breath. We do as we are told by the voice and before you know it, no more body, no more thoughts…just peace.

Peeling away the layers until there is nothing but the inner self, doesn’t have to be a struggle or a chore. Just like exercising our bodies in a fun way with a sport we love, meditating can be fun too. We can look forward to putting on the headphones to tune out the stress and tune in to our happy place anytime. There are longer guided meditations with full body scanning relaxation that is an indulgent treat, as well as shorter pick-me-up versions. It doesn’t matter if we are sleep deprived and happen to drift off during the session because the subconscious mind never sleeps so we can still benefit from the affirmations on a deep level. The positive words in a good, guided meditation will feed our soul in a way we couldn’t do by ourselves without monkey mind waking up.

Try a few to find a voice to live with happily ever after, while discovering that peace is within. It is the easiest way to reset and balance our body and mind for a long and happy life.

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Kathryn Remati, a Boston based meditation facilitator, creator of the Tranquil Spectrum App for Apple devices. Kathryn completed graduate and post-graduate studies in Humanistic Psychology (BA) and Organizational Behavior (MA) in Australia where she taught Alpha brainwave training techniques. For more info go to: http://tranquilspectrum.com or follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Bliss is Not an Attitude

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For me the reality of bliss within is not just a nice, fanciful New Age idea. It is not a mood, or an attitude of happiness. Bliss is a way of being in the world, and can be established as an achievement from meditation and one’s own personal development. Inversely, trying to create happiness on a surface level is not sustainable and can even create strain, especially if one actually feels bad, but is pretending to be happy.

Trying to be happy or positive can foster an insincere and disingenuous state of mind, or mood making. Mood making is not healthy for our emotional state and can tend to put others off.

I am certainly not speaking badly of someone who is trying to change his or her mood and be positive, but if it is forced it will not have a lasting effect.

Bliss: A Bi-product of Diving Within

It is astonishing to think that within every one of the 8 billion people on this planet exists an ocean of calm. In each one of us there is a field of bliss, whereby we can access true peace.

According to the Vedas, all of creation is ultimately made of bliss.

All Creation is Made of Bliss

The Vedas, the ancient literature from India, express that all creation is essentially made of bliss.

Out of bliss, all beings are born,
In bliss they are sustained,
And to bliss they go and merge again.

Anandaddheyva khalvimani bhutani jayante
Anandena jatani jivanti
Anandam prayantyabhisamvishanti
-Taittiriya Upanishad (3.6.1)

Bliss: Our Essential Nature

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought Transcendental Meditation out of the Himalayas and introduced this concrete experience of bliss to the world. He described bliss as our own essential nature and often quoted a Sanskrit expression that explains consciousness as sat, chit, ananda.

Sat means the absolute, non-changing reality of life.
Chit means consciousness, or wakefulness.
Ananda means bliss.

Bliss: The Message of all Great Teachers

Maharishi often said that “the purpose of life is the expansion of happiness” and that “life is here to enjoy.” When we experience our essential nature through meditation, this reality of bliss grows more and more as a state of Being. This inner experience of Being is not dependant on anything from the outside for its fulfillment.

All the great teachers throughout time have expounded this reality. Christ said, “the kingdom of heaven is within” and Buddha talked about nirvana.

We do want to follow our bliss in the outside world, as recommended by the great mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell. However, if we really want the deeper values of bliss in our lives we need to dive within and experience transcendence.

The outside world is always changing and moments of happiness will always go as quickly as they come. The bliss I am speaking of here is more than just a momentary experience of happiness in the outer world. It is a transcendental experience of wholeness, complete happiness, contentment, and heavenly joy. In its most stabilized form the continuum of bliss is a hallmark of the state of enlightenment.

Traveling to experience this bliss within is the first step on the journey toward enlightenment. The most beautiful aspect of this journey is that you don’t have to go anywhere. The Self unfolds itself, to itself, by itself, within itself, for itself. By enjoying the bliss within I very naturally and spontaneously live bliss more and more in my everyday life. It is this feeling, and this message I most want to share with the world.

Wishing you all peace of the truest kind,
Ann Purcell

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Ann Purcell. Ann is an author and has been teaching meditation around the world since 1973. In addition, she has worked on curricula and course development for universities and continuing education programs. Her latest book, The Transcendental Meditation Technique and the Journey of Enlightenment, was released on March 13, 2015. 41Zk+UVxcPL

6 Tips for Teaching Your First Yoga Class

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Not Baron’s First Yoga Class…

Teaching your first yoga class can be intimidating. The prospect of it might cause you to totally stress out, pile on the pressure, and arrive to teach a nervous wreck. While those feelings are completely understandable, follow these six tips to relax and enjoy preparing for and teaching your very first yoga class.

1. Know Your Audience

Every yoga instructor’s first time teaching is different. You may have scored your first gig at a gym, studio, community center, workplace, or school. How you approach the class depends on who is taking it. Are your students required to be there (read: workplace or school environments), or do they want to be there (studios and gyms)? Are they stressed-out business-types coming to a studio for much needed relaxation? Or are they athletes looking for a good stretch while strengthening at a fitness center? Maybe your first class is a studio audition, with yoga teachers and studio managers in attendance.

Ask questions to understand what is expected of you. Some studios or classes have a specific class sequence they require you to teach, while others want you to get creative. Orient your sequencing and tone toward the needs of your audience. As their teacher, they trust you to fuse what they want with what they need. Put in the time to understand them, and you’ll be one step closer in knowing exactly what to deliver.

2. Write a Class Outline

Based on your students’ needs, create a class sequence and write it down. The act of writing down what you intend to teach will help commit it to memory. Even if you are not allowed to bring your outline into class, have an outline handy to reference right up until show time.

Recruit your friends, your dog, or even a mirror and practice teaching your first class sequence to help build your confidence. Not only will practicing with your outline help you hone your cuing skills, it will also give you an idea of whether your sequence is realistic for the amount of time you’ve been given to teach.

3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…

The main objective in guiding your first yoga class is to teach a solid, safe practice to your students. Start with basics: focus on cuing, timing, breathing, and alignment. Have a theme ready, but ditch it if you find it’s tripping you up. If music is required or recommended, choose appropriate songs that you enjoy practicing to, but don’t stress about making the perfect playlist. It’s your first class; no one expects everything to be exactly perfect. Keep your eye on the prize of serving your students, and table peripherals until you get more teaching time under your belt.

4. … Or the Big Stuff Either.

Employ a sense of humor and lightness to give an air of approachability to your new role as a yoga teacher. The energy and intention you bring to class affects each and every student, so why not have some fun? Use your own enjoyment in preparing for and teaching your first class as a barometer: if you’re enjoying yourself, there is a good chance your students will and are enjoying it, too. You smiling gives your students permission to smile. Commit to making your first class lighthearted and fun. Not only will an intention to enjoy take the pressure off, having fun will ensure your students leave your first class with good vibes.

5. Get and Be Real

In each and every class, yoga teachers have opportunities to truly shine. Oftentimes, these opportunities happen in the moments directly following a mishap. Did you stuff up your opening line? Totally ace one side of a sequence but space it and not do the other? Forget the next pose in the sequence or what it is called? Blunders happen, and probably more often than you think. Directly following a screw-up, get and be real.

Get real with your expectations of yourself. Mistakes happen, so go easy on yourself. Call in your sense of fun and humor, have a laugh, and move along. No one expects you to come out of teacher training as The Greatest Yoga Teacher That Ever Lived. Be gentle with yourself. Take a deep breath to center, tap into your confidence, and follow your instincts to recover. Be honest and real with your responses to mess-ups in class, and win the hearts of your students every time.

6. Enjoy the Process

Think about engaging with your new life as a yoga teacher like dating: we only get one first date with a new partner, one first kiss. Think of the way your heart thrills when your romantic interest calls or messages. Remember the excitement and butterflies, the nerves and fears. The hopes, curiosity, and genuine heart you bring to getting to know someone new.

Approach your role as yoga teacher as tenderly, accepting, and hopeful as you would a new relationship. Slow down. Enjoy where you are. You only get to teach your first yoga class once. Ever. Savor it. New experiences can be scary, sure, but trust yourself. It’s all part of the process. We have a limited number of “firsts” in this life; once they’re gone, they’re gone. We don’t get do-overs. So enjoy every moment of teaching your first yoga class, good or bad, along the way.

For your first yoga class, set yourself up for success: know your audience, your sequence, and practice teaching it. Get your priorities straight: focus on safety and alignment, breathing and cuing, and commit to having fun along the way. Get real to be real. Breathe. Approach your first class with humor, fun, honesty and a true heart to enjoy every moment, the nerves, the thrills, and the excitement of preparing for and teaching your very first yoga class.

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post written by Rachel Rannow, an intern for Yoga Travel Tree. Yoga Travel Tree (www.yogatraveltree.com) was inspired by the simple idea of creating rich, meaningful yoga adventures around the world. They know from experience that both travel and yoga can be transformative experiences for the mind, body, and soul. Yoga Travel Tree brings the two together to offer travel adventures for the young and the young at heart, for the advanced yogi and those just getting started, for the world traveler and the novice sojourner. All are welcome for a yoga adventure.

Photo credit: @baptisteyoga on Instagram

What’s the best way to break in a new yoga mat?

Practice on it every day…

Practice On...

From left to right, here’s what I’m practicing on lately:
  1. Aurorae Classic Yoga Mat – 6mm, 3lbs, 24″ x 72″
  2. Jade Yoga Harmony Professional Yoga Mat – 5mm, 4.5lbs, 24″ x 68″
  3. Hugger Mugger Tapas Original Yoga Mat – 3mm, 2.5lbs, 24″ x 68″
  4. Magic Carpet Sapphire Deco Yoga Mat – 6mm, 3.5lbs, 24″ x 70″
  5. Manduka Black Mat Pro Standard – 6mm, 7lbs, 26″ x 71″

A photo posted by Brian (@dailycupofyoga) on


It’s a rough life trying to give each of these yoga mats all the time and attention they deserve, but they’re certainly motivating my 30 day yoga practice challenge for May (going strong so far:). I’ve been a longtime fan of pretty much all Manduka yoga mats–definitely my comfort zone–but I’m also usually happily surprised when I step onto different surfaces. These were all different and unique in their own ways.

Of this group, the Jade Harmony definitely has my attention and will spend a lot of time in future mat rotations. I’ve never tried a Jade mat, but I can totally see why so many yogis recommend it. Besides the great traction, it’s heavy enough that it lays out nice and flat on the ground without sliding or moving around. It just feels solid, but as you can see from the picture, it also rolls up pretty tightly and seems like it would be ideal for carrying to class. Since I spend most of my time on the mat at home, I’m less concerned about portability so the wider Harmony XW or the thicker (and heavier) Jade Fusion look really nice for a home practice too. For now, I’m more than happy with the sweet ride of the regular Harmony mat.

Yoga Mats...lots of them...If you’re in the market for a new mat, you can find these, and practically every other piece of yoga gear imaginable (with a low price guarantee), at YogaOutlet.com. Besides finding great yoga deals, you also help support Daily Cup of Yoga–we get a small cut of any purchases you make through our site–many thanks and Namaste!

How Do You Choose The Yoga Teacher That’s Right For You?

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One of the biggest issues yoga students face today is finding a truly great yoga teacher. A teacher in whom they can place not only their trust, but who will also guide them in achieving the ultimate purpose of their life.

Sure, most yoga teachers know something about alignment. Or maybe they can put a good flow together. But very few teachers are practiced and learned in the ways of what yoga truly has to offer. 

There is clear evidence of this in the lack of teachers who understand and teach methodologies such as stillness (Stirha), or the ability to cultivate effortlessness and good space (Sukha). Instead, there are a lot of great classes with awesome playlists, loud music (often so loud you cannot hear the instruction of the yoga teacher), fantastic flows that are so fast and long they leave no time for savasana, and enough backbends to make you feel like you could join Cirque de Soleil after class. 

One time I attended a yoga class at Laughing. The teacher began the class expounding on the virtue of stillness and how yoga was about getting there and then staying there. Moments later, he started his class with a flow that did not stop for 1 hour. In order to keep up and go at a pace suitable with my breath, I skipped every other pose. He made it a point to let me know that if I could not keep up with the class, he would have to ask me to leave.

My bliss had left the building.

To you, the true seeker, the one looking for a true teacher– you are not so easily fooled by those yoga teachers who need the smoke and mirrors to get your attention. You are looking for someone who is not only full of real experience, but someone who is connected to a tradition. Someone who has been led and guided by a real teacher themselves. You are looking for a yoga teacher who has had direct experience with what they are teaching.

Real practice leads to direct experience. And direct experience is ultimately the best source of real knowledge.

Many can dispute and argue what should be the criteria for choosing a teacher. I cannot speak for others, but my three are simply this:

1. Who was their teacher and what is their lineage?

As mentioned above, it is important to note the different lineages and the kinds of teachers they have. Some yoga lineages are not lineages, but more of a name-brand style of yoga. Like McDonald’s and Burger King is for hamburgers, so we have the same for yoga. They are not connected to a tradition or a teacher. There are many in the yoga world who would have you believe otherwise, but do not be fooled.

There are other lineages that have popped up in the last 100 years. You may think that they are ancient in their techniques and lineages, but they are not. Some of those are Iyengar Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, and Ashtanga Yoga, just to name a few. 

Find out who the teacher’s teacher was, and then who their teacher was, and so on. If what you learn feels right to you, you will know that you have found your teacher. 

2. Are they actually thriving in life? 

I have been surrounded by spiritual leaders ever since I knew how to walk. Many of them amazing, and so many others…well…not so much.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s I lived in Vancouver, Canada, where spiritual leaders seemed to come out of the woodwork. There was a constant theme in all of their lives – they were not thriving. All of them seemed to be simultaneously ending a relationship, a marriage or a partnership of some kind. They were nearly all in debt or financially insecure. There was another theme of heavy drug use or pot smoking. They all gave the illusion they were doing well, and it was all “cool,” but none of them were thriving. It was just an illusion. 

Find an instructor who you are proud to call your teacher. Not because they have a lot of things or live in a big house, but because they are taking care of themselves and their responsibilities. And most importantly, because they do what they say they are going to do. 

3. How content are they?

A great way to gauge if a teacher is right for you is to notice how content they are. Try asking them.

Contentment is an interesting word, and it is a hard one to define. The best definition I’ve heard lately is that contentment means you have no ambition. You have no desire for more. That statement in and of itself demands more explanation.

The way I would define contentment is this – a general overall happiness with one’s life. 

Now I know that is almost too broad of a statement, so I will let you sit with it.

But here is what the opposite of contentment looks like. Someone who is:

  • Perpetually negative or complaining about their life.
  • Needing to have new things all the time.
  • Obsessed with the latest yoga clothes and fashions.
  • Constantly dolled up whenever they show up to class (I knew a yoga teacher who got eyelash extensions to advance stage presence for her yoga career).
  • Surrounded by a lot of stuff and things.
  • Seems restless and agitated.
  • Cannot sit still for very long and fidgets a lot.

The gauge in finding a yoga teacher that is right for you is a difficult path. For some of you, you might go years and even decades without finding your teacher. And for some of you, you will meet them and not even know it.

My best advice is to keep your spiritual ears open, your heart sincere, and stay devoted on your path. Don’t be distracted. Pray every day for guidance. Stay true on the path to enlightenment and the right guru or spiritual mentor will show up and change your life forever.

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Yogi Aaron, author of “Autobiography of a Naked Yogi.”  Bringing passion and adventure to his teaching, Yogi Aaron guides students to secret and far-flung locales, empowers them to realize their own limitless potential, and makes yoga relevant and accessible for the modern world. Since 2002 he has been traveling and leading retreats worldwide and currently serves as the yoga director at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa in Costa Rica. Follow Yogi Aaron on Facebook.
 Photo credit: Alon Reininger / Contract Press Images