Leigh A. Milne, IDEA member, yoga teacher and personal fitness trainer, conducted a small study in Vermont to assess how older adults might benefit from a 12-week yoga class. Milne and her team recruited 16 female subjects with an average age of 78 to participate either once weekly or twice weekly in 1-hour Iyengar yoga sessions.

Before and after the study, an independent physical therapist tested all subjects for function, flexibility and strength. Both groups improved, with the subjects who met twice weekly improving more. Among this group, strength levels rose by approximately 25%, function increased by 22% and flexibility improved by 4%. For more information on this study, contact Milne at [email protected]

Because this trial was small and short, the researchers recommended that a longer study on a larger population was called for to determine whether fitness and functionality would continue to increase.

A grant from the Central Vermont Council on Aging covered the costs of the yoga program and the fees for the independent physical therapist. Other organizations and individuals contributed practice space, equipment, teaching services and other types of expertise.

The formation of an ongoing weekly “Yoga for Seniors” class for members of the Mad River Valley community in Vermont is a positive result of Milne’s study. Many members of the original group, as well as new participants, continue to enjoy the benefits of the yoga program, which is now offered at a sliding scale rate.