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Keeping Older Yoga Students Safe

September 16, 2019

Janet Rae Humphrey C-IAYT, E-RYT, C-YFHA, C-IYFS is a yoga teacher from Scottsdale, Arizona who primarily teaches older adults. Janet first walked into a yoga class at the age of 58 after a lifetime of medical issues, including a lumbar fusion, six knee surgeries, fibromyalgia, and three neurosurgeries, followed by life-threatening infections, severe pain, muscular weakness, and scoliosis. Through her yoga practice, Janet grew stronger and more flexible, and her health improved dramatically.


Now as an experienced yoga teacher, Janet teaches the health-challenged and people from 50 to 100 years old helping them to age successfully. Janet is certified in three yoga specialties: Yoga Therapy, Yoga for Healthy Aging and Integrative Yoga for Seniors. She is the author of the book, “Age Without Limits,” and produced a video series, “Age Without Limits Yoga – Chair Poses from Head to Toe.”

She took the Integrative Yoga for Seniors Professional Training at Duke Integrative Medicine and was incredibly helped by this pioneering program. The eight-day training is for registered yoga teachers and combines the best of evidence-based medicine with the ancient wisdom of yoga. Discover more about what Janet learned and how it helped her grow as a yoga teacher.

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Are there any specific ways you incorporate what you learned from the integrative Yoga for Seniors professional training in your teaching?

I teach in several senior living centers and a yoga studio. Most of my students have multiple medical conditions. Even though I worked for 20 years in medical research and neuromuscular diseases, I would not feel comfortable teaching older adults without the Integrative Yoga for Seniors training.

The lectures on geriatrics, exercise and aging, aging joints, and joint replacements, osteoporosis, cardiology, and pain have been extremely helpful. I have had people in their upper 80s faint in class and have heart attacks. I was able to recognize the symptoms and take care of them until the EMS arrived. I can also provide medical information to my students on what symptoms to watch for and how to move their bodies in a way that is safe no matter what their medical conditions are.

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What would you tell someone who is wondering if they should pursue the training but hasn’t made the decision yet?

If you presently teach or plan to teach people over 65, this training will be most useful to you. I visit local yoga studios when I travel and find that most teachers have no idea how to adapt their teaching when there are people over 65 in the room. I have heard stories of students getting compression fractures in forward bends and falling because they want to keep up with the rest of the class rather than listening to their bodies. Often teachers fail to give options more suitable to the older population. Our first job as yoga teachers is to keep our students safe. The Duke Integrative Medicine training will help you teach older people appropriately.

Is there anything else you would like to share with potential participants in the training?

My most vivid memory of this training was watching people tethered to large oxygen tanks and practicing yoga. I realized that there are no limits to who can do yoga. One 84-year-old student with a chronic illness commented that before she started yoga, she thought her life was almost over. After taking yoga for two years, she is living her life fully. The joy of bringing this improvement to older adults is amazing.

If you are a yoga teacher, make plans to apply for and attend the Duke Integrative Integrative Yoga for Seniors Professional Training. The next week-long session is on November 2-9, 2019. Participation is by application only and registration is limited. Applicants must have completed a minimum of a YA approved 200-hour RYT training or equivalent.

Apply now! Early registration ends October 14 and the last day to register is October 28.

To learn more about Janet’s services or for any specific questions visit her website.

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