HomeGentle Yoga Class is in Demand for Local Seniors

Gentle Yoga Class is in Demand for Local Seniors

A yoga class for senior citizens offered by the San Marino Recreation Department has become so popular that a second class will be added for the next season.

There’s even a waiting list for the class.

Gentle Yoga for All Levels has approximately 65 participants who are age 55 years or older and meets every Tuesday at the San Marino Center.

“I think people are excited that they have a yoga class that they can actually do,” ERYT-500 Yoga Instructor Kris Sanders said. “The age spread year is between 55 and mid-80s.”

She said most of the people who come to Gentle Yoga have no experience in yoga at all.

“I start at the beginning with the breath,” Sanders said. “So I teach them how to breathe properly and I teach them how to strengthen their abdominal muscles. I give them very practical exercises that we repeat a lot so that they have a routine and they have things that they can do at home.”

She said there are no prerequisites to start yoga.

“It’s just finding the right class that fits for the person who is ready and willing to show up and participate,” Sanders said.

The class used to be free; however, it now costs $1 per session ($10 for all 10 classes) for the season because it has become so popular.

“This is the first session that we began charging $1 per class,” San Marino Recreation Supervisor Eddie Covarrubias said. “We started to charge to allow people to secure their spots because of the popularity of the program.”

“I think people are happy to pay it because they see the value in the experience,” Sanders said. “They see the value in what they’re learning. They see the value in how to adjust their posture, where to place their breath in terms of short shallow breathing versus belly breathing.”

She said she teaches people to strengthen their abdominal muscles.

“Everything stems from that,” Sanders said. “When your abdominal muscles are strong, it directly affects your posture. It affects your balance and it affects incontinence, which as we age affects everyone.”

She said the class works slowly and she keeps an eye on all her students.

“The first rule in the room is if anything hurts, you immediately stop what you’re doing,” Sanders said. “Then we fix it and do something else, whether it’s lowering the arm, not taking it so high and not moving so much. The definition of yoga is to ‘yoke.’ It means union. Yoga is union of the body—the physicality of it—mind—paying attention in the moment—and the breath. When you bring all of those three things together and you move mindfully, you can build strength in the body. You can create space in the joints and length in the spine. That’s what we focus on here.”

She said she wants to ensure that her students enjoy themselves and are thankful that they can move in this way.

“It’s a privilege and an honor to be able to do this—to be able to change people’s lives,” Sanders said. “I’ve had a lot of people tell me that the things that hurt before they started doing this don’t hurt anymore.”

She said people have eliminated back, hip and knee pain.

“Putting space in the joints allows synovial fluid—which is your human WD-40—to move into the joints,” Sanders said. “When you create space in a joint, that human WD-40 that we don’t make anymore naturally, comes into the joint.”

Many married couples take the yoga class together as well as people just by themselves.

“It’s the gentlest of the gentle yoga,” student Anita Chao said. “We’ve tried different teachers and this is the best class. A lot of it is sitting down.”

Chao said the biggest appeal is that she can get her husband, Victor, to come to the class with her.

“He has a problem with his back,” she said. “I just want him to go. Yoga is so important.”

“We like the instructor, Kris,” Victor Chao said. “She doesn’t push you too hard.”

Student Felisa Rodriguez said the yoga class is beneficial because a lot of people aren’t able to stretch and do physical activity at their homes.

“It’s an excellent class,” student Nenita Quitevis said. “I never want to miss it. Kris is a very good instructor.”

Participant Helen Grubbs said the yoga class is salvaging the seniors.

“We want to salvage what we’ve got,” she said. “The class is at my level. It’s designed for older people and is very useful.”

“You learn new ways to exercise and find fitness through stretching and concentrating on core strengths,” student Patty Perkins said. She also added, “It’s a great group of people.”

Sanders has been teaching yoga for 15 years and began teaching for the San Marino Recreation Department in spring of 2014.

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