Tell me about yourself.
My family is a little bit bohemian. I have a husband who teaches at ACAD and was a Poet Laureate and my daughter works at the Bodhi Tree at the front desk.
For myself, I have a lot of experience in various mindfulness trainings, a background in yoga therapy, in anusara training, and have worked with seniors in various ways in my life so teaching yoga to seniors was a natural fit for me.
Now I teach 10 classes a week and do workshops, retreats and trainings. I just did a retreat at Camp Chief Hector all about restorative yoga and nidra. One of my most popular seniors group classes happens twice a week at the Scandinavian Centre in the NW. It tops out at 45 people and is almost always full. I started training other teachers in seniors yoga because the demand for it has exploded.
How do you ground yourself?
It's evolved a lot as I've taught. These days meditation and nidra are big, but really it's spending time with my family just for fun. Yoga can get so emotive that sometimes I need to go to the movie with my family, eat popcorn and just be human. It keeps everything feeling real.
How often do you practice yoga yourself?
At one point, I did a 90-day practice everyday with my daughter. Once that was finished it was on and off about four times a week but for the past couple months have been about once a week. I definitely practice meditation more often than yoga. It's not every day but when I do, it's about 45 minutes to an hour.
What got you started in seniors yoga?
My mom, who is now 80, realized that her body was changing with age and wanted to do something about it so she started taking yoga classes. It was having her by my side, practicing even with bad knees that inspired me to start teaching seniors.
What advice do you have for people looking at starting on their yoga path as a senior?
If you're uncomfortable or unsure I suggest that you start with a one-on-one session to expose yourself to how the class will happen. Seniors yoga is so much more accessible and the class is full of options, support, space, and opportunity to decide what you do or do not want to do. People feel like they are able to participate in any way they want.
What’s the biggest challenge you find seniors experience?
To get through the door. In our culture, yoga comes with so much youth and an image of ability. Know that you don’t have to wear spandex, you don’t have to touch your toes and you won’t be made to do a pose you see on the front of Yoga Journal. We can give you something else that is equally as good and not as scary.
What has teaching seniors yoga taught you?
Seniors have taught me so much — like not to fuss so much about the little things. Most of the seniors are super active to begin with and you would never guess by looking at them that they are in their 80s. They just get on with life. You do what you do, stay involved, have fun. Don’t fret about everything. They are so matter of fact.
What do you love most about teaching seniors?
There’s something special about teaching seniors and that age group. It’s a time of life that they are facing around their bodies, their life (their end of life) and their physical limitations. It’s the psychological realities that really shape the experience in the class.
What does intention mean to you?
In my yoga nidra classes, we talk a lot about Sankalpa being something that's more than intention, but intention is infused with the same concept. Basically you're reminding yourself of something that you want more of but it's already there, you just need to remind yourself that it already exists.
Kristen Beaulieu will be at INTEND this Saturday, January 20 to help with assisted yoga. No matter your level of experience, we welcome you to the event!
INTEND is the first of four Your Yoga Collective events happening in Calgary in 2018.