In her seventies, May Yacoob teaches yoga to fellow boomers

“There’s nothing worse than feeling like your body is starting to betray you,” says Baby Boomer, May Yacoob.

Yacoob has spent the past three decades as a yoga practitioner. She trained in numerous styles and philosophies and learned how to teach yoga to older students, particularly of the boomer era. Over the last decade, she has taught yoga to mature adults at San Clemente Methodist Church. She is passionate about helping fellow boomers get the most out of their physical mobility and their intellectual and spiritual growth. For boomers interested in yoga, here are Yacoob’s tips and strategies for safe practice.

How to begin: Talk to your care provider

This is particularly important if you have a serious health condition, so you can get guidance about specific movement precautions. For example, people with glaucoma may be advised to avoid head-down positions which increase pressure in the eyes. Many physicians don’t know much about yoga so be sure to clarify that you are interested in starting with a gentle class.

How to choose your style

It is essential to recognize that yoga classes vary widely in style – from vigorous and athletic to relaxing and restorative – and in substance – from “yoga flavored” exercise to “meditation in motion”. Yoga’s booming popularity has resulted in a broad array of offerings, including laughing yoga and yoga practiced with puppies.

How to find the best teacher for you

Find a well-trained and experienced yoga teacher. Don’t be shy: ask your prospective instructors how long they have taught yoga and whether they have any training in working with special populations such as older adults or people with health challenges.

How to start practicing yoga

Don’t be afraid to work one on one with your instructor. Consider beginning with some individual sessions. Working one on one with a qualified yoga instructor who will tailor a practice specifically designed to address your health goals, is a great way to start practicing yoga.

How to maximize your practice: Communicate with your instructor

Be sure to share with your instructor any new health issues that crop up. A good instructor will consult a physician to find out exactly what a diagnosis means and how it affects the practitioner’s yoga practice. Stay in communication with your instructor.