Typically when we think of yoga, we picture young, thin women in a pretzel pose. We don’t often think of older people with limited flexibility.
Christen Landry, owner and yoga instructor at Yoga4 in Lake Leelanau, works with people of all ages and fitness levels, including people who have had injuries or are in a wheelchair. “You can do yoga in a chair, and I don’t think people realize that,” Christen says. “With modifications, every pose can be done while sitting.”
Yoga has been linked to a long list of health benefits, including greater flexibility and range of motion and better posture and balance. Today, doctors even prescribe yoga as a natural means for healing, Christen says. Yoga helps to detoxify the body and keep joints lubricated, she explains. Synovial fluid, a liquid found in your joints, helps to reduce friction and lubricates joints for ease of movement. As people age, it can dry up. Yoga or stretching can help keep the fluid in your joints and ease pain and stiffness.
“I really do feel yoga keeps you young,” Christen says. “When you become inflexible, it doesn’t just affect you physically, it affects your mind and your ability to participate in life.”
In addition to physical health benefits, yoga can also help reduce emotional stress and lead to increased self-awareness by calming the mind. “Especially in today’s busy world, that pause allows you to maintain a sense of balance,” Christen says.
For those who haven’t tried yoga before, it can be intimidating, especially since people don’t want to be the one person in the room who doesn’t know what to do. “There’s a saying, ‘Yoga doesn’t care,’” Christen says. “You can show up here in sweatpants and a T-shirt. You just have to show up.”
Another constraint can be the cost of yoga classes. Yoga4 has a $15 walk-in rate or a 10-class pass card for $125, which comes to $12.50 a class. For those who may need assistance paying for classes, Yoga4 is creating a scholarship fund. Instructors, students and the public may contribute to the fund.
If you haven’t tried yoga before, or if you want to make sure you like a class before signing up, Yoga4 offers the first class for free to anyone who lives in the surrounding areas.
Another option is to attend a couple of classes to learn the basic poses and then continue learning and practicing at home. There are many free, instructional yoga videos on YouTube. When starting a new exercise at home, it’s normal to feel a few aches as your muscles adjust. However, sharp pains may indicate an injury.
Yoga4 is located at 121 N. St. Joseph St., Lake Leelanau.