Over eight weeks, a group of 19 men and one woman, with an average age of 66, participated in twice-weekly yoga classes. A qualified teacher in yoga therapy led the group, dramatically modifying the poses so that everyone could participate.
By the end of the program, the researchers observed dramatic results. They measured the participants on a range of balance scales – the Berg Balance Scale and Fullerton Advance Balance Scale – which improved by 17 percent and 34 percent respectively. This improvement moved the participants beyond the threshold for the risk of falling.
And just as dramatic was the participants’ levels of confidence after the eight-week course. They even asked for a take-home exercise plan s they could continue after the course had ended.
What is Yoga Therapy?
The classes the participants attended were not your average yoga class. All the poses had to be modified, with people starting out on chairs. Then as the weeks progressed, the group moved onto the floor – which the researchers thought was significant as many older people are reluctant to get down on the floor – again modifying the poses and using other props.
This is a technique often used in yoga therapy. The benefits of yoga are many and are not only available to those who have full range of movement. In fact, a good teacher will tell you that if you can breathe, you can do yoga.
As the great yoga teacher and advocate of yoga therapy Krishnamacharya put it, “Yoga must be made to suit the individual, not the individual to suit the yoga”.
In yoga therapy, one size does not fit all, so modifications are made for each person according to their needs. They are then able to get the most from a yoga practice.