By Carol Brzozowski
City & Shore PRIME Magazine
Claudia Kramer Regan, 65, started practicing yoga in her mid-40s after losing 100 pounds, seeking to augment her fitness routine. She was hooked after taking a class from Juliana Trejo – and, at age 58, she became a certified yoga instructor herself.
Regan and Trejo, 53, are among many South Florida yoga teachers who’ve noticed an increase in people middle-aged and older practicing yoga.
Balance, flexibility and improved range of motion are among its physical benefits, Regan says, adding that it also benefits the mind. Perfect remedies for aging joints – and attitudes.
“We have different bodies: the physical, spiritual and emotional body,” she says. “Yoga helps them all. Instead of me looking in the mirror and saying, ‘I am so old,’ yoga teaches me to accept who I am, and I say ‘For 65, you ain’t bad.’”
“It helps us to be more calm and able to deal with life, which lately has been very difficult for many people,” Regan says. “A little yoga breathing can go a long way in stressful times.”
For Trejo, yoga is a multi-generational practice. Her mother, Gigi, 80, practices it. Daughter Kayla, 24, and sister Monalisa, 49, practice and teach at Trejo’s Yoga 4 Life studios in Pompano Beach and Coral Springs. Trejo also teaches beach yoga on Pompano Beach. Regan teaches at Trejo’s studios and from her home.
Trejo – born in Chicago and raised in Caracas, Venezuela – has taught yoga since 1991 and says by practicing it, she’s developed “self-control, tremendous confidence, strength, endurance, clarity of mind and peace.”
At least 75 percent of her students are over age 45, she says, and are seeking not physical but emotional benefits as well.
Pain, stiffness and discomfort are primary reasons people take up yoga, Regan says. Anxiety is another.
“As we age, we tend to be more afraid of things,” she says. “We’re not as confident as we once were. We suffer with anxiety. Yoga helps with the anxiety of life’s big and small things.”
Some people tell Regan they can’t do yoga because they can’t touch their toes or circle their arm.
“My answer to that is, ‘That is why you should do yoga,’ she says. But it’s essential to find the right class that works for one’s own body.
Yoga ultimately is not about standing on one’s head, Trejo adds, but “about standing on your own two feet, well-grounded, present and balanced.”