Training & Preparation: Teaching Seniors
We preface the following support with the recommendation that you only undertake such a teaching role if you have significant and high-quality training, study and experience.
Of great importance is the style or lineage of yoga you are trained in and who and what you currently teach. These are key factors that will impact how much you will need to learn to safely and effectively teach Seniors. For example, if your training and teaching are focused on power yoga in a heated studio, you’re likely to have a great deal of learning needed. If, on the other hand, your background is in the Iyengar or Kripalu traditions, you are likely to be more familiar with some of the foundational consideration. Still, there are a number of particular considerations and techniques specific to safely and effectively teaching Seniors.
It would be of great help if you are also a senior yourself and experienced with the conditions and experiences your students have undergone. If you are not, then, at minimum, you need experience in teaching breath-centered practices with individualized adaptations before pursuing the specialized knowledge and experience for teaching Seniors.
General Training Isn’t Adequate
Findings from a 13-year study of yoga-related injuries in the United States was published in January 2017. It reported that injuries had increased from 10 to 17 per 100,000 participants. Although the risk of a serious injury remained very low (less than 0.02%), it found that the majority of injuries occurred in students aged 65 and over.
Many Teachers Do Not Have Training to Teach Older Students
Studies have shown that just as the number of people practicing yoga has rapidly increased, so has the number of people teaching it. Unfortunately, many of those teachers do not have training to teach older students who lack lithe 20-year old bodies. Authors of this study suggest that, “it would seem that there is a potential lack of appropriate education even for certified instructors.” That is to say, most certified yoga teachers do not have the know-how for instructing students with say, osteoporosis, and teaching them like any other student can lead to an increased risk of injury. – Suzannah Schinder
Fundamental Consideration: Injuries & Conditions
A vital consideration is whether or not students are in general good health. If students are coming to class with injuries, conditions or surgeries, we advocate for having yoga therapy expertise. Otherwise, for guidance and reminders about many common injuries, conditions (and even past surgeries in some cases) found in general classes, see Safety & Adaptations.
Do you have a mentor or teacher acquaintance that currently teaches a senior class? We would highly recommend when moving into a new area that you attend — and hopefully assist — a class of the same genre.