When you think of yoga, perhaps you think of contorting one’s body into impossible poses, saying “om” while meditating and of course the infamous Downward-Facing Dog pose.
For seniors, the prospect of joining a yoga class can be daunting, especially as they age and find their bodies don’t do what they used to do.
However, there are many seniors within the Lodi community that have found success in practicing yoga, and are already taking advantage of a wide variety of health benefits.
According to the National Institutes of Health practicing yoga can help reduce chronic lower back pain and improve mobility. Studies also proved that yoga can be a good way to relax, and has the ability to reduce blood pressure. Falls can be prevented with the increased balance, strength and flexibility from regular yoga instruction.
At Now and Zen yoga studio in Lodi on Lower Sacramento Road, owner Deb Marweg has been helping students, including seniors, find therapeutic benefits through yoga for a variety of physical conditions since she opened the studio in 2003.
Marweg completed her 200 hour teacher training in Yoga before opening her studio, and is currently steps away from completing a Yoga Therapy certification with Indian yoga teacher Ganesh Mohan in the style of Svastha Yoga.
As a former triathlete and special education teacher, Marweg can empathize with being injured and also has an eye for her students’ individual needs.
Marweg tailors her classes to her students’ individual capabilities, and asks for a general health history before a student joins a class.
In her therapeutic class. she allows seniors who need more stability to use chairs and cushions.
During the class, Marweg often rushes over to different students to adjust cushions and keep them off bad hips and in more stable positions.
“It’s important people feel good about where they are,” Marweg said. “If you ask someone to do something that’s beyond their capabilities, they will either get hurt or they won’t do yoga ever again.”
Yoga instructors at Now and Zen give many options during classes.
If an instructor asks the class to reach their arms up high, she might suggest that if students have shoulder issues that they bend their elbows.
But the focus of the classes is not just to go through the motions.
“Doing yoga poses just to do them doesn’t make sense,” said Marweg. “Whether you have breathing problems or arthritis, the poses you do in class should help with that.”
She described a woman who had trouble looking over her shoulder while driving.
Her time in the class was spent focusing on increasing mobility in this area to make driving easier.
Some students in her yoga classes even have chronic conditions like Parkinson’s that they work with.
While yoga can be a great way for seniors to improve their general fitness and flexibility, it’s important to discuss the decision first with a doctor.
Marweg said she will never advise someone to go against the wishes of their doctor, but she is willing to discuss with a doctor some of the ways yoga can be gentle and low-impact if there are any misconceptions.
The greater focus for Now and Zen yoga is for each student to stay in tune with their own needs.
“I think our society is so much of a harder and faster is better society. When you’re dealing with health issues, giving your all is listening to your body,” said Marweg.
For the seniors in her classes who come from cities as far as Sacramento to take classes at Now and Zen, this philosophy is much appreciated.
“My body was in such bad shape, but my graddaughter told me about Deb,” said Joanne Dale of Stockton. “I couldn’t move before. I still have arthritis, but I can move.”
Those looking to make the step into practicing yoga will be able to take their first class for free with Now and Zen.
Students like Dale are highly supportive of newcomers, and will tell them the class gets easier with time.
“It’s so good for you if you’re in a situation where you’re not doing well,” she said. “Just come.”