PRIME: Yoga builds strength from the inside out

If you have breath in your body, you can do yoga, says an instructor of Chair Yoga and Gentle Yoga for seniors in Chilliwack

Dee Monroe (foreground) teaches chair yoga and gentle yoga at the Mt. Cheam Lions Hall.

Dee Monroe (foreground) teaches chair yoga and gentle yoga at the Mt. Cheam Lions Hall.

Yoga builds overall physical strength, as well as increasing balance and mobility.

So it’s ideal for everyone, especially seniors.

Dee Monroe is a local yoga instructor who teaches classes in Chair Yoga and Gentle Yoga, at the Mt. Cheam Lions Hall for the Chilliwack & District Seniors’ Resources Society.

Monroe started learning the ancient practice of yoga when she was 50. She’s an active grandmother who sees the wonderful effects it has on her students every day.

“People just feel better after doing yoga,” she says.

Monroe has been taking classes for a decade.

She got serious about it after losing her job suddenly a few years ago. She now finds herself busy teaching classes at various yoga studios in Chilliwack.

Monroe is very inclusive in her approach to designing a program around chair and gentle yoga for seniors.

“The main idea I had was to try to bring yoga to people, who for whatever reason thought yoga was not for them.

“Maybe they thought they were too fat; too old; too stiff or too immobile. I show them they can do it.”

They may not do the impressive headstands or handstands seen in yoga videos but they do move around. They increase core and leg strength. She teaches them whatever elements she thinks they can do.

“My mantra is if you have breath in your body, you can do yoga. Even if that’s all you do, there is always a way of bringing the mindfulness to the act of breathing.”

In Chair Yoga, they sit in a circle, eyes closed. The instructor leads the group through deep breathing exercises and centring, where the breath is visualized as it moves through the body. It’s a relaxing process.

They’ll do some standing poses. She’ll often do a reading at the end of each class.

The Gentle Yoga class is very different from Chair Yoga.

“With Gentle Yoga, they bring their own mats, and they need to be able to get up and down off the floor.”

Some folks come to both kinds of classes offered by the Seniors’ Resources Society. Some only one or the other.

The great feedback she gets about a residual sense of wellbeing is a good indicator.

“One person told me, ‘it means I don’t want to kill anyone for a couple of days.’ That’s a good sign I guess.”

It also decreases the crippling feelings of isolation for some of her elder students, as they chat and get to know each other around the class time.

“People end up feeling stronger,” she said. “They gain flexibility and improved balance. Often they feel calmer and less reactive. They gain acceptance, and feel they can go with the flow of life.”

It is so important as we age.

Monroe thought about it carefully when she was designing the classes.

“We all have this notion that we’re going to lose our mobility as we age, as well as our minds, our balance and what have you.

“But it doesn’t have to be like that,” she said.

“Yoga is good medicine.”

There are yoga classes at various Chilliwack locations, however the Chilliwack & District Seniors’ Resources Society offers Chair Yoga at Mt. Cheam Lions Hall on Mondays and Wednesday mornings starting at 10:30 for 45 minutes. Then Gentle Yoga is on Fridays at Mt. Cheam Lions Hall at 10 a.m.

Call the Seniors’ Resources Society office at 604-793-9979.


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