79-year-old Truckee woman teaching free yoga classes for seniors
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Yoga isn’t only for youthful men and woman who can contort their limbs into seemingly unnatural positions, balance on one foot, or do headstands.
It can be practiced by everyone, including seniors who have physical and cognitive limitations, and even those who have never taken a class, said Truckee resident Dorothy “Ann” Yuhas.
“I came to the realization that as my body ages and the physical challenges become more and more, that I can do yoga forever,” said Yuhas, 79, who has several joint replacements and arthritis. “It’s the only activity that I know of that is a lifetime adventure. … Yoga can be adapted to any age and limitation.”
Yuhas recently completed a 200-hour program to teach Silver Age Yoga, a style of yoga based on geriatric science and research that was developed by Frank and Serpil Iszak, founders of the nonprofit Silver Age Yoga Community Outreach.
Silver Age Yoga is mostly performed in a chair, where all body parts such as the neck, hands and legs can be stretched, and breathing exercises can be performed, Yuhas said.
“Activity maintains your health, helps to eliminate pain and helps to eliminate stress,” she said. “It makes you feel better.”
More specifically, yoga helps to increase flexibility and mobility, improve balance and reduce blood pressure, according to medical research.
Yuhas would like to put her training to use by offering a free Silver Age Yoga class to local residents — from Incline to Tahoe City to Truckee and everywhere in between — and is looking for participants.
“As far as I know, there really isn’t anything else in Truckee that is focusing on that (senior) segment of the population,” she said. “They’ve been left out, and they will benefit tremendously from socialization and physical activity.”
Yet all ages — including younger adults who may be recovering from an injury or have a medical condition that hampers vigorous exercise — and ability levels will be welcomed, Yuhas said.
Details such as the location, time and duration of the class will be dependent upon those interested in participating.
“All they have to do is come sit in a chair and breathe, so it’s nothing to be fearful of,” Yuhas said. “Take that step.”
Since receiving her certification in late May, Yuhas has had one student — Truckee resident Jacqueline Southerland, 81.
“It’s very easy,” said Southerland, who started working with Yuhas earlier this summer. “You go at your own pace. You’re not competing with anyone.”
Southerland, who has a lung disease that makes breathing difficult, added that Silver Age Yoga has helped her respiration.
“It’s very relaxing,” she said “It makes me feel good. It limbered me up a bit.”
As for having Yuhas as an instructor, Southerland described her as “very patient.”
“I’m limited,” Yuhas explained. “I can’t stand on one leg for very long because of my injuries, so I understand.”
Yuhas, a former teacher, counselor and business woman, said she got involved in yoga to manage her own pain and retain an active lifestyle.
“When you lighten your pain, you lighten you life,” she said.
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