Yoga helps seniors stretch out into a healthier lifestyle

Jane Markowitz, 64, conducts a Nia class at Petticoat Creek Community Centre in Pickering, specifically designed to help seniors stay fit and experience the benefits the practice has to offer.

Markowitz began working with seniors because she was used to teaching younger people in schools and wanted to teach her peers.

“It’s a nice chance to be in a community with people who are like yourself, so I began to identify with people in their 50s and 60s, and it was just a natural transition from there,” Markowitz said.

Health and fitness experts say it’s no stretch that yoga adds multiple health benefits. Christine Frotten, a health and fitness specialist at the Pickering Recreation Complex, says yoga improves sleep habits, brings chronic pain relief, reduces blood pressure, improves flexibility and reduces stress.

“Yoga can also aid in the treatment of osteoporosis, arthritis, loss of muscle and breathing issues,” she said.

Markowitz, who has been teaching for over 10 years, was attracted to Nia because she used to be a ballet dancer and a dance teacher. Nia is a combination of yoga, dance and martial arts. She is trained in Kapala yoga, Raja yoga and follows Iyengar yoga on a daily basis.

Beverley Cooke has been attending Markowitz’ class for the past four years.

Cooke said what attracted her to the classes was the combination of dance, yoga and martial arts, and she swears by the results: “My flexibility, agility and balance has improved tremendously.

“It has also improved my muscle strength and joint stiffness. It teaches us to move in a way our joints are supposed to move and this gives great comfort and a feeling of exhilaration,” said Cooke.