In our society, fitness is all too often associated with youth and beauty. In many cases, people work out purely to improve their appearance, never considering the benefits that regular exercise can have for their health and overall well-being. As a result of this way of thinking, most exercise programs target the young, active community. Workouts are designed for able body people, seldom taking into consideration the needs of older individuals, who could still reap the benefits of regular physical activity. With so few options available, many people become less active in their advancing years, and predictably, their health begins the decline.
Silver Age Yoga is a technique which incorporates Hatha style yoga with the latest developments in geriatric science and research, creating a program specifically tailored to the senior citizen community. This innovative style of exercise allows elderly people to maintain a much higher level of physical functionality.
We were deeply interested in this program, and contacted Frank Iszak to conduct an interview and learn more about Silver Age Yoga.
Q: How was the Silver Age Yoga Program developed?
A: Actually Silver Age Yoga is a style of yoga (SAY hereinafter) while the program is called Silver Age Yoga Community Outreach (SAYCO hereinafter)
In 2003, seeing the need for a yoga style that could address the need of seniors, especially those with fragile bodies (and minds!) my wife and I developed an adaptation of classical Hatha (Indra Devi lineage) Solicited the support of seasoned yoga teachers of the area (San Diego county) as well as the scientific community in the field of gerontology. Between science addressing senior health issues (represented by health professionals from UCSD, UCLA. SIRA, Scripps) and two dozen yoga teachers the style developed into a practical well- functioning senior yoga program
Realizing that the segment of the senior population that needs the benefits of yoga the most is the one that can afford it the less: the underserved and economically disadvantaged. It was also an opportunity for me, a political refugee of the 1950s to repay a debt: To be accepted and becoming part of this society to me was a gift which called for reciprocation, hence was the opportunity for: bringing improved health and a better quality of life to thousands of needy seniors. As a result SAYCO was born.
HISTORY OF SAYCO
Since 2005 SAYCO trained over 200 specialized yoga teachers, (as far as New Zealand) who in turn delivered over 7500 free yoga classes, changed the lives of thousands of seniors and done that without a single injury. SAYCO received a dozen major awards and recognitions, representing local state national and international recognition of the field of senior health.
Q: What is your target demographic Silver Age was developed for?
A: Fifty five plus in age (we have students in their nineties) ambulatory – although there are a few wheelchair ridden – students in our classes) targeting seniors living in low income areas
Q: How does Silver Age Yoga benefit your clients?
A: In numerous ways: reduced prescription medications (by their physicians edict) improved balance (less injuries by falling) reducing obesity, better breathings, reduced pain due to arthritis, faster recovery from surgery, reduced depression from a loss of (the list is long: beloved partner, hearing, vision,) in general: an improved quality of life.
Q: What are the specific needs Silver Age Yoga fulfills for its clients that other fitness
A: The need ONLY Silver Age Yoga offers: FREE classes to a wide variety of seniors with a diverse age, gender, ethnicity and physical ability. We are the only yoga organization teaching the visually impaired at blind centers
Q: Can this program be customized for people with specialized needs?
A: Specifically in two areas: Visually impaired and therapeutic yoga for seniors as presented by Duke Integrative Medicine, an intensive course we attended in 2010.
Q: How have your clients responded to Silver Age? Any stories you’d like to share?
A: A great number of testimonials and anecdotal evidence, and now scientific research is being conducted in partnership with UCSD Medical Research in progress.
Q: You have a 30 minute Silver Age Yoga class which is aired twice daily on San Diego County Television Network, bringing Silver Age to a much broader audience. What were the challenges in producing this given the target audience?
A: The Challenges are to attract more teachers to be certified to meet the increased demand created by the CTN exposure.
Q: What are the advantages for remaining active in our advancing years?
A: Quality of life improvement, longevity, delayed institutionalization (or none at all) the list is long
Q: Can younger people with limited mobility benefit from this program as well?
Q: What are your hopes for the future of Silver Age Yoga?
A: As our motto says: Change a thousand lives, and find the resources to do it.
To learn more about Silver Age Yoga, please visit their website at: http://www.silverageyoga.org/