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We’re concluding our three-part look at yoga with Lauren Farenga, owner of Lotus Yoga Studio, where the motto is “Do Yoga. Be Happy.”

What is your advice for women 60+ who haven’t tried yoga before, but would like to try it? Is there a kind of yoga they should try first?

For anyone who is new to yoga I would always recommend a beginner, slow, or gentle class. These typically are a slower pace that will give you an opportunity to get familiar with yoga poses, breathing, props and the language used in yoga classes, which is different from other fitness classes. Depending on your mobility you may choose chair yoga, restorative yoga if you have limited mobility, or you may be more able bodied and choose to join a flow or all levels class.

At my studio we call this class “slow flow,” and we also run beginners yoga workshops that help familiarize people with the practice before jumping into a public class. There are so many different types of yoga that trying different styles is the best way to find one that suits you best and gives you the workout and the stress relief you’re seeking.

A good yoga teacher will be able to make the class accessible to you and your body regardless of your experience with yoga, your age, or your body‘s abilities that day. This is why I hesitate to say that there’s a specific type of yoga that’s better for women over 60 because it’s really more about what your personal goals are and what your fitness level is.

Also, be sure you take time at the beginning of class to let your instructor know about any injuries, pain or discomfort you may be experiencing that day. This will let them know to give you other options as needed during class, and they may be able to offer yoga to help improve  how you’re feeling that day. It can be intimidating to let your instructor know how you feel sometimes, but this is ultimately going to help you get the most out of your practice and feel the best afterwards. In online classes I encourage students to send me a private chat so they don’t have to share their health information with others.

What are the most important benefits yoga gives to women in their 60s and older?

There are many benefits of yoga and meditation practice, including but not limited to stress relief, anxiety reduction, increased mobility, improved  balance, improved mental focus, general pain reduction, and a deeper connection to one’s own body. Yoga can help us curb cravings and change habits through mindfulness, which makes us healthier overall.

Connection to one’s body is the most important benefit of yoga, as we get to learn more clearly what our body needs to feel its best. Getting more in touch with our own body also leads to deeper acceptance and more kindness towards ourselves. All styles of yoga can offer you this, so again take the time to find an instructor that you resonate with – it will make all the difference.

Women tend to be tough on ourselves and our bodies, and I often hear students of all ages talk about their struggles with body judgment. As our bodies change over time it can be difficult to accept each new version of ourselves. Having a strong and loving connection between one’s mind and body allows for deeper acceptance of who we are regardless of what our body looks like. Yoga teaches us to love and care for ourselves in a way that is non-judgmental and to focus on a heart-centered approach of gratitude and acceptance for this beautiful body that carries us through our lives.

For women over 60 there are also some added benefits such as reducing joint and back pain, lowering blood pressure, and helping to manage one’s weight. All of these benefits stem from the concept of accepting and loving one’s body as it is in the moment not forcing it to be something it’s not. At Lotus Yoga Studio we deeply emphasize becoming empowered in yourself and in your own body at any age because you’re worth it!

How can a woman prepare to take an online yoga class to make her environment as close as possible to being in the studio with the instructor and other students?

This is a great question! Some practical things you can do is move furniture so you have space to fully lay out your mat and space around the mat because you might not stay confined to the space of that rectangle. It would also be good to get some yoga props such as blocks, a strap, a bolster or blanket to support your practice. You can make-shift some of these at home using books for blocks, a scarf for a strap, or pillows or couch cushions for bolsters, and any comfortable folded blanket. Having a wall or chair available to assist with balance poses may also be helpful.

Some things I like to do to make my yoga space feel more special is light incense or a scented candle, use dim or natural lighting, and bring any objects or plants  into the yoga space that bring me comfort and calm.  I recommend that students create a small “yoga kit“ that would include their mat, their props, incense or candles, and their special objects so when they need to practice they don’t have to stress about where to find these things, and they can simply move the coffee table aside and set up their home yoga studio.

In Lotus Yoga classes we send out a playlist with the link to the live stream class so students can practice with the music at the volume of their choice as they flow at home. Music can make all the difference in a yoga practice and can change how we feel. Consider adding a relaxing playlist or CD to your yoga kit.

What question didn’t we ask you that you’d like to answer?

Yoga is different than other fitness classes. It works on all body systems and exercises our mind as much as our body. If you have been feeling stressed in the mind, it will show up as tension in the body. Making time to move, breath and stretch is going to quickly make you feel so much better! I know my yoga practice and meditation practice has helped keep me grounded and clear headed through the pandemic thus far, and I hope that it can help your readers as well.

If anyone would like to join an online class they can visit www.lotusyogaarlington.com to see our schedule and register. We have many 60+ women in our studio and we welcome you to join the flow! At Lotus Yoga we believe “Yoga Can Empower All,” regardless of who you are, where you come from or how you relate to your body. We hope to see you soon!

Lotus Yoga Studio, 185 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, 781.697.2450, www.lotusyogaarlington.com, @lotusyogaarlington

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