It's Time to Adapt the Way We Teach and Treat ALL Bodies

This past week we posted two videos to our Instagram and Facebook feeds, showing what type of practice someone over the age of 65 could be doing. The feedback received from both posts reminded us how people want to see a practice that’s relatable, that doesn’t look fancy or complicated and isn’t done by someone young, hypermobile or scantily clad. 

Our “student” in these clips is Patti Milne, mom to Yoga Detour Co-Creator and Director, Cecily Milne. She has had a total of 5 hip replacements over the last 15 years stemming from acute osteoarthritis which may have been a byproduct of her professional dance career. Patti has always been a “mover” of some sort. After the first hip surgeries, she took up Pilates in her 50s and began functional training with strength coach and YD Faculty member, Lovedeep Dhunna, two years ago. Patti is on a mission to stave off deterioration of the other parts her body that took a hit over the course of her professional career—namely her spine, knees and feet—while also maintaining the strength and mobility of her upper body. While she can’t move the way she once did, Patti’s challenges haven’t stopped her from getting out of bed everyday to do something movement-oriented—whether that’s a long dog walk, a training session or a Pilates class—that will get the blood flowing and serve her body well. 

Some might say that Patti is an exception to the norm when it comes to the aging population. Everyday we hear about others over the age of 65—often our own parents or in-laws, or those of our friends, students and colleagues—who struggle with pain or dysfunction. Some slip on the ice and end up bed-ridden for weeks, or others who fall on the stairs and bang up their wrists or knees. Another woman we know happened to get in the way of two big dogs who knocked her over, resulting in a broken shin bone and sprained ankle, not to mention a fear of off-leash parks. While accidents are bound to happen, they don’t have to end in injury. But unless we start talking about what HAS to happen to keep aging bodies strong and healthy, this segment of the population will continue to decline.

It’s unfortunate that age and sedentary lifestyle often go hand in hand. Without a constant effort to stay mobile and engaged in various activities, the body’s systems begin to shut down merely as a response to the message that movement is no longer a requirement of daily living. Simple tasks like reaching the top shelf in the cupboard, getting up and down from the floor or carrying grandkids become less and less possible. 

Adaptive Yoga Detour Training (AYDT) is the result of multiple requests for a training program that acknowledged the gap of needs-based yoga and movement classes catering to the senior population, as well as to those living in younger bodies compromised by injury, illness or other conditions. Given that we are currently heading into a time when there have never been more adults over the age of 60 in the United States (http://transgenerational.org/aging/demographics.htm) and Canada (http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/statistics-canada-seniors-1.3248295) (perhaps the whole planet?), it's undeniable that "yoga for seniors" is rapidly becoming "yoga for the majority of the adult population”.

We can expect the ripple effects of the growing 65+ population to include a greater demand on health care and hospitals. Never before have therapeutic wellness providers—those who focus on preventative measures as well as rehabilitative treatment (including movement!)—been better positioned to ease the influx of those needing acute care and hospitalization. By educating ourselves NOW about how we can better inform and prepare our parents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and all of their friends, we are taking necessary steps to support those we work with and care about to ensure their “Final Act” is one where pain, frustration and lack of motivation have been replaced with ease, fun and inspiration.  

Now is the time to create yoga and movement classes where all bodies are accommodated. Do you know how osteoporosis develops and what it does to the skeleton? Do you know how to help your students combat osteopenia through MOVEMENT? Are you familiar with the different types of hip replacement surgeries and how surgical approach dictates the patient's range of motion into the future? How confident do you feel talking about incontinence and the impact a sedentary lifestyle has on the pelvic floor?

There are so many questions and unfortunately in most yoga studios, nowhere close to enough informed answers. We want to move beyond the era of "I don't know" into a realm of "I'm actually doing some research on that right now" or "I know someone who had a similar issue and this is how I, along with their team of wellness professionals, helped him/her.” We at Yoga Detour believe that nothing is more empowering than education; there really is nothing like knowing what you’re talking about with a deep sense of confidence and competence. 

Understanding is what ignites passion. Passion is what moves you and keeps you moving forward.”

- Tony Robbins

Adaptive Yoga Detour Training takes place January 13-15 and 27-29, 2017 in Toronto, ON with an expert faculty. For more information, click here. Applications can be found at yogadetour.com/apply.