When people talk about “staying sharp” as they age, we commonly hear their testimonials about exercise and a healthy diet. Having taught Yoga for seniors for over a decade, I’ve come to recognize another powerful agent for mental acuity: change.

Embracing Change

Yoga, when viewed through the lens of holistic anatomy and physiology, can teach us about mental patterns. We refer to them as samskaras. In the concept of samskara, our life experiences create a template that informs our likes, dislikes, personality and habits. In other words, our lifestyle, relationships, physical posture and demeanor can reflect our long-held patterns. These, in turn, can dramatically influence our mental health.

Memory loss and cognitive decline are big topics in the senior community. Therefore, many people face the need to make a change in order to support their mental health. Thankfully, Yoga offers us a way to embrace this challenge and improve our brain function. It also allows us to reduce stress, disrupt old patterns and create new ones, and promotes deep rest and relaxation.

Can old dogs learn new tricks?

The old saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” doesn’t apply so much to people who practice Yoga. This is because when we gather our body, mind and breath to practice Yoga, two amazing things happen:

First, our mind is given a “bone” (to keep with the canine metaphor!). When we focus on our right and left sides, align our limbs and remember to breathe, it gives our mind a place to settle. Then, with our mind settled, we might notice that we fret less and that our brain fog clears up.

Second, the novelty of coordinating the efforts of our body and mind with the breath creates new neural pathways. Our brain can then function beyond the patterns of thought and habit that cemented our synapses into familiar, but out-dated territory. Because that which “fires together wires together,” as is often stated in neuroscience, regular practice helps us strengthen our new mental patterns while dismantling those we’re ready to let go.

While we sleep, our brain’s cleansing cycle, known as the glymphatic system, washes away the synapses that are no longer useful to us, thus shedding the physical manifestations of our patterned samskaras. Yoga promotes the deep sleep that initiates this brain cleanse, as well as the circulation of cerebro-spinal fluid that nourishes and protects our brain.

Here’s a new twist to the Chair Yoga Sun Salutations I usually do in my classes. Why don’t you give it a try?

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks! Full Seated Chair Yoga Sun Salutations

Thanks to Master Kim for this version of Seated Sun Salutations from her Online Chair Yoga Teacher Training Final Exam! I introduced this more challenging sequence to a group of my Seniors and they got it! Goes to show that the old dogs can surely learn some new tricks!

YogaVista.TV can give you the Change you’re looking for!

As I approach my 65th birthday, I find that moving in unique ways and learning new things from different people offers just the kind of constructive change needed for a healthy mind at my age and beyond. For this reason, we’ve compiled decades worth of Gentle and Chair Yoga classes for seniors.

When you are ready for healthy change, we’re here for you. Browse through our video library to find something new!

Namasté,
Sherry

To watch a video related to this Topic, click on an image below:

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Sherry Zak Morris Teaching the Old Dogs New Tricks

Teaching the Old Dogs New Tricks – Always Learning

Tatis Cervantes-Aiken Vibrant AgingYoga

Vibrant Aging Yoga – Seated Yoga Series with Tatis

Sherry Zak Morris Memory, Movement and Mindfulness

Chair Yoga Class: Memory, Movement and Mindfulness

Online Workshops related to this Topic:

Online Workshop: Anatomy of Aging and Movement

This comprehensive Workshop provides a solid foundation for understanding how our body ages and how our movement can become limited. Sherry Zak Morris, C-IAYT and E-RYT, will teach you about structural changes that occur with aging. First, Sherry will focus on the “common” injuries and conditions. Then, she will explain how to improve or correct some of these conditions that have already manifested using a Chair Yoga practice. Lastly, she will go into detail of the anatomy of each body part and condition.

CREDITS:  Author, Sherry Zak Morris, Certified Yoga Therapist

Co-Author, Susana Jones, Certified Yoga Therapist