Ancient Hindu Philosophy Modernized to Benefit America's Aging Populace

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New organization is taking yoga-based fitness on the road to help seniors, seniors living with memory care issues, and seniors who are wheelchair bound learn about and reap the benefits of an ancient, rewarding practice.

Older Americans - 65 and up - accounted for 12 percent of the nation’s population in 2006 - approximately 37.3 million people. The Census Bureau projects this number will grow by about 50 million in the next 40 years.

Aging comes with the reward of a long life and sometimes the penalty of chronic ailments.

For this reason, more seniors are turning to yoga. Chair Yoga, a new variation of the age-old practice, is becoming increasingly popular among elderly care facilities. Since yoga requires a great deal of balancing, older yogis with limited mobility can rely on the stability of the four-legged chair to complete a posture – asana – in yoga terms.

“It is hard enough to hold certain postures with two feet planted solidly on the ground without wobbling, says Rossana Parsons, founder of Stages Yoga, a South Jersey based company offering Chair Yoga to seniors and physically challenged individuals.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, regular yoga improves joint flexibility, circulation, balance, strength and overall physical health. “There are marked mental and emotional benefits as well,” says Parsons. Yoga, especially in group settings, aids in reducing anxiety and feelings of loneliness.

Once taboo, the practice of yoga has flourished in recent decades. Many westerners have embraced the health benefits of this ancient Asian practice. In the United States alone, more than 13 million adults practiced yoga in 2006, according to a 2007 survey by the National Institutes of Health.

“Yoga is a superior form of weight bearing exercise whereby we use our own body’s weight to exercise the muscles around the joint. To remain healthy, the body’s joints must move regularly and bear weight. As we age, bone density inevitably decreases. When bones stop bearing weight, they degenerate, become weak and are prone to breakage (osteoporosis). Thus, yoga weight bearing exercises will help slow this cycle by bearing weight on most of the joints in the body so that our muscles will transmit mechanical and bioelectrical signals to the bones, causing them to thicken. Daily weight-bearing exercise is essential to remain active.”

“Our residents look forward to their yoga class. We started off doing yoga every other week, but the residents wanted Stages Yoga to come in every week,” says Alison Burton, Director of Activities at Saint Mary’s Catholic Home, an independent living facility in Cherry Hill.

Staff at Care One Harmony Village, an assisted living (memory care) community in Moorestown, noticed a marked increase in residents’ energy level after a Stages Yoga class.

An outreach company, Stages Yoga has abandoned the confines of a studio; instructors conduct class right in the community – at schools, senior centers, and other facilities. In addition to Chair Yoga, Stages Yoga offers regular floor classes as well as programs for special needs children, including those on the Autism spectrum.

For more information about Stages Yoga, visit or call (856) 904-1971.

Stages Yoga is an innovative physical education yoga program developed and tailored to fit the needs of specific populations – children, adults, seniors and special needs.

Lavinia Awosanya
(201) 926-9572 – mb
(609) 518-1259 – office
lavinia (at) eventmood (dot) com


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