Identity of population
Community : Seniors
I have been teaching for three years to adults over 50 with no visible disabilities. In early September, I opened a group for older adults over 70 who experience mobility issues and other health challenges.
I keep this group small, limited to five people, as it is my first experience with this demographic. All of them can comfortably lie down on the floor, and they are happy to work on supine postures.
The community’s needs are as follows: strengthening, increased mobility, balance (to prevent falls), stress management, and improved sleep, leading to increased self-confidence.
Focus of the class
I strive to design classes that address the community’s needs, which include mobility, strengthening, balance, and relaxation. To keep the classes varied and engaging, I focus on one specific need each week while incorporating elements of the other needs.
For my final project, I have chosen to present an integral class.
Location & props needed
Props needed: mats, chairs, blocks, blankets, bolsters
Lenght of the class: 1 hour
Opening – Sequence & description -Closing
- Welcome: The first three minutes are dedicated to welcoming participants and asking how they are feeling.
- Opening our practice space, centering & grounding: We begin with comfortable sitting, followed by a body scan, breathing awareness, visualization of grounding, and a single OM chanting mantra. We also set an intention for the practice.
- Warm-up: We start with the Pawanmuktāsana series 1. This Hatha Yoga series is ideal for lubricating joints, releasing tension, and warming or strengthening muscles. It is suitable for individuals with conditions such as rheumatism, arthritis, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
- Neck movements: We perform neck movements, including head up-down (say yes), right to left (say no), and half rotation, to lubricate and release tension in the cervical area.
- Elbow bending: Stretching arms in front of the body with palms facing up, followed by bending the arms towars the shoulders.
- Shoulders rotation: We focus on rotating the shoulders backward since many yoga poses involve forward movement.
- Arms swinging: Both up and down at the side of the body and cactus open-close movements are incorporated.
- Hands & wrist: We perform finger stretching and contracting exercises, wrist bending (up & down), and wrist joint rotation.
- Feet, toes & ankle: Similar movements are done for the feet, toes, and ankles as for the hands and wrists.
- Knee bending: We work on stretching one leg in front and holding it with both hands behind the thigh, performing flexion and extension exercises for each leg individually.
- Hip rotation & side stretchings
- Twisting: We incorporate spine rotation by twisting to both sides.
- Goddess pose: This pose focuses on hips, legs, and shoulders flexibility and mobility.
- Sun Salutation: We practice a chair sun salutation for coordination, movement, focus, and breathing awareness.
- Standing posture: Warrior 2, which stretches the inner thighs, groin, and chest, strengthens the legs, abs, and arms, and promotes a sense of grounding and self-confidence.
- Balancing posture: We begin with balancing on one leg with the support of a chair or a wall. I also encourage tiny movements of the other leg in various directions (front, back, lateral and tiny circles) before moving on to the tree pose proposing three variations.
- Supine poses:
- Knees towards the chest poses. Starting with one leg, then the other, and finally both legs. These poses improve digestion, gently massage abdominal organs, and release tension in the hips and lower back.
- Supine spinal twist. This pose enhances spinal flexibility, balances SI joints, and may relieve pain in the lower back, spine, and hips.
- Inversions pose: Viparita Karani, legs over blocks and bolster, or legs raised over a chair or towards the wall for improved circulation, stress relief, and restorative benefits. Please note that individuals with specific medical conditions should avoid inversions.
- Relaxation: Savāsana.
- We conclude the practice with Savāsna. Special attention is given to ensuring participants are comfortable, which may include using props such as a blanket under their heads, a bolster under their knees, and a blanket covering them if the weather is cold. Given that seniors can be easily distracted, I recommend incorporating a guided meditation or visualization. Afterward, allow a few minutes (I suggest 2) of total silence before gently waking them up and giving them time to sit in their chairs.
- Pranayama: If time allows, we practice Bhramari pranayama, a simple yet effective calming technique. This pranayama may be practiced before savāsana.
- Closing our practice space: We close the practice with the Om shanti mantra and an expression of gratitude for themselves, the community, their loved ones, and the Earth.
You can download the PDF document containing visuals of the practice below. Just a heads up: you might not find every single asana described in my project sequence in the PDF due to some availability limitations.
For mixed level classes:
For mixed-level classes, I can effectively use the sequence described above with only slight modifications:
Warming-up: participants may choose to sit on their mats during the warm-up phase.
Sun salutation: For participants who choose not to sit on a chair, I offer a printed graphic of the Sun Salutation sequence alongside the corresponding chair Sun Salutation. This allows me to cater to participants with varying levels of experience and mobility while maintaining the core structure of the practice.
You can download the PDF document containing visuals of the practice here: