OVERLAND PARK, KS (March 4, 2015) -- Each week, about 20 Tallgrass Creek retirement community residents gather in the Audubon Clubhouse classroom, dim the lights, and practice the ancient discipline known as yoga. Yoga – which is a series of specific bodily postures, breath control, and meditation -- is widely practiced by all ages for health and relaxation.
Tallgrass Creeks yoga class, led by Wellness Coordinator Amy Rader, includes first-time students and others like resident Judy Turner, who have practiced the gentle exercise for years.
"For me, the stretching is tremendous," says Judy. "Amy is among the best instructors Ive had. She brings her entire personality, attention, and spirituality to the class and makes it a special 45 minutes."
Rader, who has a masters degree in exercise science from Southern Illinois University, has taught the yoga classes at Tallgrass Creek since she joined the communitys staff two years ago.
In addition to yoga, Rader oversees a multitude of different fitness classes weekly including low-impact aerobics, Zumba, stretch-and-tone exercises, core work, chair exercises, men's-only strength training (M.O.S.T), and water aerobics.
But of all the classes she has taught (and taken) since beginning her career in the fitness industry in 2006, yoga is Raders personal favorite.
"Ive experienced the benefits of yoga personally, so Im a true believer in its power," says the energetic Rader, who keeps herself in shape by practicing and teaching yoga. "It positively affects mobility, blood pressure, and muscular and mental health. And though its a great exercise for all ages, it has particular benefits for seniors."
Residents agree as Raders Tuesday morning classes have grown, and she now offers yoga classes on Thursday mornings as well.
Raders class at Tallgrass Creek is called Gentle Yoga and is a chair-based exercise which consists of gentle movements and postures held for several breaths. Participants spend half the 45-minute session performing movements while seated and the remaining time performing additional movements on their feet.
Dr. John Saxer, Tallgrass Creeks physician, says the mental benefits of yoga are as important as the health benefits.
"As we age, issues with balance, arthritis, and flexibility can emerge, so the holding postures yoga promotes are particularly good for seniors," says Saxer. "But the peaceful environment in which yoga is performed is also a great stress reliever, which affects overall mental and emotional well-being."
Resident Nora Pinkston, one of many who rarely misses a yoga class, agrees.
"Ive taken it for about eight months and really love it," says Nora. "My balance and flexibility have improved, but the real reason I continue is that I just feel better after class."