(Fred Lynch) [Order this photo]
"Yoga is slow and easy and it works with the muscular system. It relaxes me because it stretches and lengthens my muscles," says Sherry. She credits the exercise with helping her continue to work as a massage therapist. Greg says the class helps his stress level and occasional low back pain.
The misconception that older people can't participate or benefit from yoga is simply that: a misconception, says Amy Sutherlin, fitness manager at HealthPoint Plaza in Cape Girardeau.
"People of all ages can benefit. As we age, it's even more important to get up and move. Yoga can ease arthritis pain, increase strength, flexibility and mobility, improve balance, help with depression, improve sleep and sometimes blood pressure," says Sutherlin.
Another misconception about yoga, says Carlea Lastrapes, yoga instructor at Fitness Plus in Cape Girardeau, is that the focus is on meditation and breathing.
"Yoga is about fitness and strength and flexibility," she says. "Yoga has become a mainstream fitness regime." Lastrapes teaches private yoga classes with 15 to 20 people in each. At least half are seniors. "Yoga is definitely beneficial for all ages and most people who perform yoga don't look their age. You perform yoga with a mindful approach, focusing on correctness and breathing and leave your to-do list at home," she says.
Jane Greening, who teaches yoga as well as other classes -- including a combination yoga/Pilates called Yolates -- defines yoga as "strengthening, stretching and good for blood pressure." The 75-year-old from Jackson is also a physical therapist. The classes have been especially helpful for 61-year-old Jerry Bailey of Jackson, who had back surgery in 2005. Bailey says he has lost weight and the stretching helped with his back pain.
(KRISTIN EBERTS) [Order this photo]