Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Age Is No Barrier

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Age Is No Barrier

Article excerpt

Byline: By Amy Gidley

Yoga is a gentle and easy way of exercising that can work with any level of fitness and any level of mobility - and it can provide real benefits for older people.

Linda Irving, 50, from Ryton, Gateshead, is the British Wheel of Yoga representative for Tyne and Wear and teaches yoga to all ages, from young children to men and women in their 90s.

"Yoga can cater for any ability, even if it's very limited," she says. "I have taught yoga to people who've had strokes and haven't been able to move one side of their body and to people who've had severe arthritis. They can do it and they can feel the benefits of it."

Linda emphasises that yoga isn't a cure-all solution. "Of course it doesn't work miracles; it won't cure the effects of a stroke, but it can make a real difference. I've noticed a real improvement in people's mobility and flexibility, as well as in their overall health.

"Yoga also helps people to relax. Quite a lot of the older people I speak to have problems sleeping, and knowing how to relax themselves can help with this."

Linda has been teaching yoga for 14 years, but she was first introduced to it by her mother, Jessie Hunter, also from Ryton. Jessie, 80, has been doing yoga for 34 years and attends one of Linda's regular classes.

"I am fit and healthy for my age and I think yoga has really helped with that. It keeps me supple and fit. I'm a very active person anyway, but I don't think that I'd be able to do the things I do if I didn't practise yoga regularly."

Jessie understands why some old people might be reluctant to try yoga.

"A lot of people don't think that this would suit them, they see all these difficult postures and, of course, they could never do that. But yoga's about going as far as your body will let you. I would say to them that they should just give it a try and they might be pleasantly surprised."

Linda runs a weekly class at The Grange Day Centre in Throckley for elderly people.

Many of those in the class have very limited mobility and so everyone is taught sitting down, with some of the participants in wheelchairs.

Linda said: "People might think it's not proper yoga, because we all sit down throughout the class.

"I work with the ability that the class has, and I've been able to see a real difference in the two-and-a-half years I've been doing this class. People's flexibility and general mobility has really improved, and to these people that is just so important."

Mary Tweddon, 81, from Throckley, has been attending Linda's class for two years. She says it's helped ease her health problems.

"I had a heart bypass and it took quite a long time to recover fully from that," she said. "I think the yoga classes are really good, and they helped my recovery. I find the breathing exercises helpful because I can have difficulty breathing sometimes, and it really loosens my joints as well. …

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