Teaching yoga to seniors: essential considerations to enhance safety and reduce risk in a uniquely vulnerable age group.

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BACKGROUND: Seniors age 65 and older represent the fastest-growing sector of the population and, like many Americans, are increasingly drawn to yoga. This presents both an extraordinary opportunity and a serious challenge for yoga instructors who must be both a resource and guardians of safety for this uniquely vulnerable group. A typical class of seniors is likely to represent the most diverse mix of abilities of any age group. While some may be exceedingly healthy, most fit the profile of the average older adult in America, 80% of whom have at least one chronic health condition and 50% of whom have at least two. OBJECTIVES: This article discusses the Therapeutic Yoga for Seniors program, offered since 2007 at Duke Integrative Medicine to fill a critical need to help yoga instructors work safely and effectively with the increasing number of older adults coming to yoga classes, and explores three areas that pose the greatest risk of compromise to older adult students: sedentary lifestyle, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis. To provide a skillful framework for teaching yoga to seniors, we have developed specific Principles of Practice that integrate the knowledge gained from Western medicine with yogic teachings.





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Krucoff, Carol, Kimberly Carson, Matthew Peterson, Kathy Shipp and Mitchell Krucoff (2010). Teaching yoga to seniors: essential considerations to enhance safety and reduce risk in a uniquely vulnerable age group. J Altern Complement Med, 16(8). pp. 899–905. 10.1089/acm.2009.0501 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/3303.

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Matthew John Peterson

Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine

Dr. Peterson's broad research interests are in aging and functional decline. He has been an investigator on VA, NIH, and foundation funded clinical trials and clinical demonstration projects that examined the effect of physical activity on the mobility and function in older adults from both institutionalized and community dwelling populations. Currently Dr. Peterson is a tenured Associate Professor in the University of North Carolina Wilmington School of Nursing, where he teaches epidemiology, statistics, and advanced scientific writing. He also provides statistical support for UNCW nursing faculty on multiple federal and foundation funded projects.


Mitchell Wolfe Krucoff

Professor of Medicine

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