Yoga Therapy and the Older Adult with Ruth Ann Penny
Are you ever too old to practice yoga? Listen, as Susi and her guest Ruth Ann Penny discuss older adults, yoga and the older adult, and what yoga can do for an older person on this episode of From Pain to Possibility. Ruth Ann has been an educator for forty years with a master's degree in adult education, focusing on leaders and the elders in our midst.
Ruth Ann became a yoga practitioner almost 25 years ago, as an active and ambitious person in her mid-forties she had a feeling of coming home. Over time, she saw that her body, with its own unique history, would dictate the yoga practice she would cultivate. As she has aged, she has confronted the reality that no yoga practice suits everybody. There is no guru that knows what you know about yourself.
"There are realities to getting older, but it's not nearly as horrible as one might perceive." Listen, as Ruth Ann shares why older adults come to her yoga studio and their genuine interest in making their lives more productive and filled with functional movement opportunities. Susi discusses the realities of aging that challenge older adults. Balance, breathing capacity, general body awareness, and endurance are some of them.
Ruth Ann shares her insights on why stiffness and loss of range are very common, and how to focus on and improve those large joint movements. When you have stiffness in the big joints, people start immediately talking about pain, so be clear when your body whispers, so you don't have to hear it scream.If you have enjoyed this discussion and are interested in learning more, Ruth Ann and Susi are running a Yoga Therapy The Older Adult program starting in August. We are optimizing this program specifically for people for whom daily life is limited by conditions and that are reducing general movement capacity.
In This Episode:
[03:53] Welcome to the show, Ruth Ann!
[04:28] Ruth Ann shares her love of working with older adults and the realities of aging.
[07:19] Ruth Ann sees in her population of students a genuine interest in making their lives rich and filled with good opportunities for easy, enjoyable, and functional movement.
[09:18] Listen as Ruth Ann speaks about developmental markers that children reach are predictable, but by age 50, your life will affect your body.
[10:47] When people come into the yoga studios or therapeutic settings, we look at the body in front of us and the experiences that the body has had.
[13:26] Susi speaks about the five realities that she outlines in a pdf document.
[14:55] Ruth Ann discusses the psychological reality of aging.
[17:38] Susi shares why older adults may come to a yoga studio.
[18:52] Ruth Ann describes the issues that people come to her yoga studio for, but the energetic response is a bonus.
[21:16] Susi shares a story about her father and how fast he declined once he moved to a place where he didn't need to move as much.
[23:29] There are realities to getting older, but it's not nearly as horrible as one might perceive.
[25:59] Susi speaks about balance being a challenge because it can lead to fear of falling so they don't walk as much.
[27:09] Ruth Ann shares her insights into the balance issue and animating the feet.
[30:00] Susi shares about when she was a young yoga instructor teaching older adults and being stunned by the impact of yoga on their movement.
[30:51] Breathing capacity is another challenge and how posture can affect breathing.
[32:20] Ruth Ann says that when you teach people who have a pulmonary disease, there are simple exercises that turn the attention to exhalation instead of inhalation.
[34:45] Susi speaks about the first yoga class she took her dad to.
[36:03] When the body and mind get the stimulus it needs, it unravels rather quickly.
[38:32] Susi says that stiffness and loss of range are very common, and when we focus on and improve those large joint movements, things can change.
[39:33] Ruth Ann believes that when you have stiffness in the big joints, she says that's when people start immediately talking about pain.
[41:33] General body awareness is another challenge that older adults face. Being clear on what is a whisper and what is a scream.
[44:23] Susi shares that when we can integrate strength gains and mobility, awareness, and balance, a lot can be maintained and improved upon.
[47:09] Ruth Ann says that the ability to be by yourself and know how to lift yourself off the toilet is huge, and strength building is critical.
[50:11] Another challenge older adults face is endurance.
[50:41] Endurance requires both the act of being able to mobilize force and as well as our ability to rest and recover.
[53:01] Things can change, and things can feel better. Yoga is adding more life to the years you have left.
[54:28] Older adults are coming to yoga to help themselves feel better.
[56:07] Thank you for being on the show, Ruth Ann!
“They don’t come looking for energy but energy is what they get and energy is then what propels them into better movement.” -Ruth Ann Penny
What You Will Learn In This Episode:
“The image of ageing is self imposed and we can change that image of the ageing self.” -Ruth Ann Penny
Featured On The Show & Other Notes:
“When people come into the yoga studios or therapeutic settings, we are looking at the body in front of us and the experience that body has had.” -Ruth Ann Penny
“Where attention goes, awareness grows and energy flows.” -Susi Hately