>> It used to be considered a normal part of aging.
Even doctors used to say, "You're old, get used to it."
We know now that there's something that we can do to increase strength, and simple exercises we can do to enhance balance, which results in a steadier, more active life.
Slowly slide out your right foot and then test your balance.
>> I think strength and balance are absolutely key.
The balance particularly.
>> Can you hold that foot out?
It's one of the biggest concerns of older people.
One in three people over the age of 65 is likely to fall in the next year.
>> Well, I've always been a klutz.
Balance of course is my major challenge.
>> Feel that stretch in the back of the neck.
>> I'm 65 and I've put a lot of miles on this old body.
It just takes its toll, you know, over time.
>> Are you ready?
Our bodies house our soul.
Our bodies really are what take us around.
Really feel that stretch come down into the side.
>> Yoga has taught me how to be physically and emotionally on this earth.
>> It keeps me moving and it keeps me happy.
>> It has changed my life.
>> All right, that's good.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
>> As I've taught yoga over many years, I've seen the benefits that the yoga practice can provide to people who have diminished strength and diminished balance.
You know, when we're young those are two qualities we don't really think very much about, but as we get older, more and more people become aware of a diminished sense of balance and a weakening of muscle strength.
And we know that a fall in an older body can result in some significant injury.
There are many different components of balance, but one of them is the sensations that the brain picks up from the muscles and from the joints.
The brain uses the sensations from the muscles and the joints to know how to steady ourselves, and it all happens in just a flash so we never have to think how to balance ourselves, it just becomes an automatic response.
But as those processes get a little dulled with age, we need to do something to enhance balance.
Otherwise unsteadiness happens, and then people risk falling.
>> Betty is a student who's been coming to class for the last ten years.
She has a neurological disease that she knew would cause a progression of problems with balance, and so she decided to start yoga because she knew that practicing her balance she would keep the essential skills for being able to be mobile much longer than if she ignored it.
>> I first noticed it in 1996.
I was walking down a road with a group of friends at dusk.
As I was walking down the road, I felt like that I needed wiggle room and a wider stance and that kind of thing.
My father had a condition, Friedreich's ataxia.
It's hereditary, and I was told, "Chances are this is what you've got."
There is no treatment, so I haven't gone back for genetic testing or any of the things they wanted me to do, because I pretty much had a confirmation.
>> She told me that her father suffered from the same neurological problem, but he didn't exercise, he didn't do anything about it, and she saw his rapid decline.
When she was diagnosed with the same condition, she said, "I'm not doing it the old way.
I am being proactive."
And she found my yoga class and she has been one of the most regular members, because it really makes a difference to her.
>> My dad didn't do physical therapy.
He didn't do it.
He just went straight to a wheelchair.
And I thought, "Well, nobody is telling me what to do.
What I am going to do is I'm going to fight this thing by physical therapy," which I did for a while, "and I'm going to try this yoga with Peggy Cappy."
My goal is to stay out of a wheelchair for as long as I can, and so far so good.
>> Craig started coming to class a couple years ago.
His career as a Navy person and his avid sports kind of has destroyed his body, and he is using yoga as a way to not only get rid of pain but to build up his body so he can have the mobility and freedom to do the things that he loves.
>> I've had arthroscopic surgery on my knee, because I used to run all the time, and then I had back surgery in 1990 for a herniated disc.
I started getting worse and worse and worse, and then I saw this thing on PBS about Peggy Cappy for back pain.
And so when I started doing it I started feeling better.
>> And at this point make your back parallel to the floor.
The sad news is we can't take our bodies for granted.
As a young adult I had no idea that there would be major changes in my body as it aged.
I really didn't get it.
Even though I had grandparents and I saw them not as active as they could have been, I thought, but I had no idea until I started to age myself.
>> I was on active duty for 34 years, always aboard aircraft carriers.
It's a vicious thing.
To get from one deck to another, they're all ladders and you're going up and you're going down and you're going across and if you're walking and the ship is doing this stuff, trying to maintain yourself out there on the ship, it's difficult, very difficult.
And that's how I ended up with back surgery.
>> Carol moved to Peterborough only two years ago or so to retire, and she couldn't believe when she found out that she moved to the town where I hold my classes.
She was thrilled to be able to have the time in her life now to practice yoga.
And I think she would say that yoga has been the best thing for her, not only the physical benefits but more than that a bringing of balance to her life emotionally and mentally.
>> When I started my restaurant I had salt and pepper hair, and then midway through I was completely gray.
Whether I was working the day shift or whether I was working the night shift, when I walked in the back door, there were at least five to seven people going, "Carol, we need-- Carol, this-- Carol, can you help?
Carol, I need this.
"” >> In a woman who is 70 years old, if she has the good fortune to live until 90 she has a one- in-three risk of suffering a hip fracture or breaking her hip.
And I don't want that to happen to the people that I teach yoga to.
And then test your balance.
And that's why each week we practice poses for balance.
Not only for balance but for leg strength, because the biggest indicator of independence for an older person is the power in their legs.
>> It's not easy.
I had to learn how to retire.
I had to learn how to slow down, and Peggy's class does this for me.
It has shown me tools.
>> When you're ready, go ahead and come into the pose.
>> Every day you're a little different.
Some days your balance can be really good and some days you just wonder what the heck happened.
>> And then come on back.
Judy comes to class because she knows yoga keeps her young.
And in her late 70s she said, "You know what, I still have such a full life.
I still have a job that I love and am totally active."
She's been doing yoga for 20 years, maybe more, and she knows that the yoga is such an important component to the quality of her overall life.
>> I have arthritis.
I had back surgery.
Peggy has taught me how to feel my body very subtly.
She taught me, for example, how to tell when I was getting a migraine headache and how to head it off before it started, because I could feel those tiny muscles begin to do funny things.
I still have problems with my back if I don't take care of it properly, but I have exercises and stretches I can do immediately when it hurts and it makes it go away.
>> Recently I asked my young granddaughter who is six if she thought that strength was important, if she thought balance was important, and she said, "Yeah, because if you lose your balance you can fall down and skin your knee."
The worst thing that she could think happening was to skin her knee.
But in an older person, much worse things happen.
We will leave here transformed in one hour.
Doctors are saying, "Find a good yoga class, one that you can do at your pace, one that you can do that is right for your body."
And I love that yoga is becoming mainstream.
I've been curious about how my body ages, and as a result of having a yoga practice I have felt like I have had a great boon being able to practice balance over the years so that my balance is very steady, much steadier than most people my age.
And it's true for people that do practice yoga, particularly my seniors.
>> I learned how to strengthen my body, but I also learned a lot about physiology, about how to stand up straight, how to get up off the floor even.
Lately the most valuable thing has been breathing.
If I get fearful about falling or anything, really, then I can just go into the yoga breathing and that calms me down.
>> She's there week after week practicing how to steady herself, how to keep herself balanced on one leg, whether the leg is out in front or to the back or to the side, and what that does is give her brain time to train to know how to keep her upright so that she can walk with much greater ease than if she had not been doing yoga at all.
If you happen to have a chair, you can place your hand there now.
>> The chair, especially for tree pose and those balance poses, I know it's there and I use it.
I'll test the waters a little bit by touching the chair, and then I'll lighten up to one finger or two fingers and then try pulling away a little bit and know it's always there to keep me safe.
>> So I'm going to put the chair in position.
I have found in my classes that people are much more likely to practice the balance poses if they know they're going to be safe, if they have something to hold onto.
Sometimes younger people feel like, "Oh I don't want to use a chair.
You know, that's like cheating."
Well, as far as I'm concerned there is no cheating.
You want to be safe always, and sometimes just having the back of a chair to steady yourself with then allows you to go deeper into a balance pose and hold it for far longer, because you know you're going to be safe.
>> I used to have wonderful balance and I don't anymore unless I challenge it daily.
The strength too is waning, because I used to be quite strong.
In fact, I came to yoga from martial arts, which I practiced for many years, and that is also strength and balance.
It's also falling and being able to fall well, which is a good thing to know, because I still fall down a lot because I don't look where I'm going sometimes, but I know how to fall without hurting myself.
>> Well, lately I use a cane, pretty much.
And I love gardening so I'll go out and walk around my yard with my cane, and then I'll plop down on the ground in my flower bed and start deadheading and weeding and pitching things out onto the ground.
And crawling around and then I can do a little downward dog to get up and get my cane and move on.
And it's amazing how practical yoga can be, I found that to be.
>> So we're talking about the physical benefits of yoga.
Strength is so important and yoga develops that so beautifully in the muscles, all the muscles in the body.
But another thing that yoga does so well is help people become steadier on their feet, help people develop a sense of balance.
We don't think about having to stand on one foot.
You might even say, "I never have to stand on one foot, so what is the big deal of balance?"
But as we age, balance becomes more and more precious, and when someone loses balance, particularly in relation to a neurological disease or just an overall decline, the quality of life changes.
>> I see problems with balance in my inner ear and I think I need to go see an ENT, because if I go like that sometimes the room just keeps right on going on.
But standing, doing the poses that Peggy puts us through, does in fact help my balance.
Am I there yet?
No, but I'm going to get there.
>> There is so much more risk of falling if the balance isn't steady.
That is the physical part, but there is an emotional and a mental component too.
Once you are fearful of falling, then that anxiety can creep into life in general.
>> Yoga is something that is a passion for me.
You can do it at any stage in your life.
The class that I go to in Peterborough ranges in some people in their 30s to their 90s, and if you have some sort of a shoulder injury or a knee injury or a hip injury, she'll take the pose and make it for you.
You don't have to do it exactly the way it's done.
And it gives you such a comfort level.
>> I honor that greatness that dwells within you as you.
>> She is more than a yoga teacher, she is a very beautiful human being.
Her spirit just fills the room and you just are elated and the time goes by just like that, and you're like, "No, I want more."
>> If someone is feeling strong and is strong and if someone is feeling steady on their feet, it turns out they have much more active lives and they can do the things that they love to do.
If, however, someone is inactive...
If an aging adult does not do something that will increase leg strength, increase overall muscle tone, I'm afraid it's a downward spiral in terms of the ability of the body to be resilient.
And so the quality of life itself, I feel, is diminished as people lose the ability to be strong and steady on their feet.
With folded palms, I thank you.
>> Tao is an amazing yoga teacher.
>> Stretch and push, chin up.
>> At 95 years old she is in the Guinness World Book of Records as the oldest living yoga teacher in the U.S.
I have traveled with her.
I have taken classes with her.
And I just, just love her presence and her contribution to the field of yoga.
>> I believe that yoga is very important.
It really means joining up the body, the mind, the spirit, to be in touch with this ladder of life inside of us where the energy flows throughout our bodies.
If we just take a breath, nothing is really happening, but when you are doing yoga you are joining this energy, you are moving it up throughout your body, even throughout my fingertips.
Yoga is when it comes from within you and you open up that power that is inside of you and your breath goes to the very tips of the fingers.
>> Let's just take a moment to bring some stretches into our body.
Yoga is great because it addresses the entire body.
Really pay attention to the sensation that's created from the movement you're making.
Physically all of the muscles come into play, and that is a lot of muscles.
Do you know how many muscles we have in our body?
Over 600 muscles.
Now take your left leg back to the right, keep the knees soft as you lift the tail bone and push back.
And is that a workout?
As you strengthen the main muscles of the body, all the rest of the muscles in the body benefit.
There are enzymes released in the body just through strengthening the muscles.
>> I was losing sensation in my feet and my fingertips, and one of the things Peggy does is she has us massage our feet.
I realized that that was bringing back some sensation, so I make a practice of doing that.
>> So the yoga poses are great.
Physically they make the body very resilient and very strong.
There is a series of standing poses called Warrior Poses, and they develop different muscles, but particularly the muscles of the thighs and the buttocks.
Those muscles need to be very strong to propel us around and even to get us in and out of our chairs.
All of us struggle today with the effects of having to sit down too long, because what happens when we sit is we lose the natural curves in the body, the curves that should be in the neck and the lower back.
And as we sit at our computers, as we sit driving, the body kind of rounds forward, and this produces a lot of strain.
>> The pain makes me tense.
You can't get comfortable, you can't sit right, you can't stand right.
And it just affects your whole being.
Your blood pressure is up and your heart rate is probably racing.
If my back is really bothering me I start to, you know, snap at my wife.
I'm just not as pleasant and calm when I'm in pain.
>> And lower.
>> So I do the yoga every Tuesday and I'm a happy guy.
I'm not living on Motrin or Aleve right now because I can get through the pain by doing the yoga.
>> The whole back side of the body is basically overstretched for most of us.
There is a lot of tension there.
The muscles in the whole front part of the body end up being shortened with a rounded posture as we hunch over on our computers or driving the car.
And over time, when these muscles get short and tight, they lose their resiliency to pull us upright.
>> Being in the age group, 65, that I am now, I know that it's very important if I get to my 80s, that I don't fall and break a hip instantly.
You know, maybe I have enough muscle tone from doing yoga that that wouldn't happen.
It's very important for me to have strength.
And, you know, doing push-ups and especially during the sun salutations is when you get a lot of strength.
You know, I think that that's enough, but then I'll do some of the poses and go, "Oh, you're still not as strong as you should be, so you've got to keep at it."
>> Sun salutations can be a part of a transition in your day.
Every yoga session that you do, every time you practice, every class you take of yoga is like adding to your body's bank account.
Just like you put in money in a savings account, it may not seem like very much from time to time, but over the span of years it can mount up to a great sum.
So too with yoga and the effects of yoga in the body.
Over the years the effects continue to build and you end up having a body that is a much easier place to live in.
>> Yoga is important to me because it brings coherence to my self, my spiritual self, my physical self, my mental self.
I can focus on what I want to focus on.
I can calm myself.
I can make a lot of the stresses of my daily life go away, and that is a blessing.
>> Take a breath in.
>> It has to do with the breathing.
If you let it flow throughout your whole being, then you're not inclined to be so unbalanced.
Make sure they learn the alignment as well.
You can't have your foot over here and this one here and be doing this, because you're going to fall over.
You really and truly have to watch how you're doing the postures.
>> I love the connection that we have in the group.
Those women and a few men have come to mean a great deal to me, and just seeing them every week and sharing that experience with them always lifts me up.
>> When you do yoga over a period of time you naturally grow stronger, your muscles grow stronger, you gain better endurance, you stay in balance better, you become much more flexible.
But there are much, much deeper changes that take place in a regular practice of yoga.
I think that most of my students would say they get as much in the way of mental benefits from yoga as they do from the physical.
My students have learned to calm their minds so that in times of anxiety, in times of stress they are able to draw on what they have learned.
>> I just needed it.
I needed it to calm me down.
I do it in a class situation at first and then I do it at home, and with Peggy's I wish I could do it every day with her.
It's the type of yoga that you can do when you're walking or when you're standing at a register waiting for your transaction to be taken care of, or if you're sitting in your car you can breathe.
>> They draw on the strength that they have gotten from the physical part of yoga, but they draw on an understanding of how to use the breath, how to calm yourself through the breath.
>> I was in the hospital in rehab for about two months and they were having trouble getting an IV in my arm, and my veins kept collapsing.
They kept bringing in new nurses, trying, poking, poking, poking, and the only way I got through that was yoga breathing.
Breathing helps you clear out whatever else is going on and you can just focus on the in breath and the out breath.
That breathing is the difference between life and death really, and I can see doing yoga breathing until the end of my life.
I can see that calming me down in any circumstance.
>> Yoga seems to give people a resilience both mentally and emotionally.
I ask my students to pay attention to three things while they are doing a pose: to pay attention to the breath, because it's a great indicator of what is happening mentally as well as physically, to pay attention to the sensation that arises in the body as they move or hold a pose, and then to pay attention to how that pose affects them when they come out.
And by developing our ability to pay attention, by developing our ability to be aware, something way beyond the physical benefits unfolds.
>> I have asthma.
With the yoga breathing, if I start to cough, then I can kind of stop my breathing for a minute until things sort of, the tickle goes away.
And then I can gradually breathe out and I can kind of control the coughing and get through it.
Just because I've learned how to control my breath.
>> Take an easy deep breath in and a long slow breath out.
And tell me if that did not change you?
I think everybody knows breathing is one of the most important things that we do.
I mean it's the first thing we do in our lives and the last thing we do.
But in between, most of us don't pay very much attention to how we breathe.
You don't pay attention to how you breathe unless you begin to have trouble breathing through emphysema or asthma or bronchitis or various diseases.
Even a common cold can set people back.
And you can allow the relaxation to penetrate the inside of your mouth as well.
For yoga, breathing exercises are a really important part to the connection between the mind and the body.
The breathing exercises we do in yoga are called Pranayam, and it's actually one of the steps of yoga to begin to bring awareness to the breath.
>> Just by knowing how to breathe gives me a sense of control that I don't have otherwise.
I feel like I can get through this.
Just the simple skill of knowing how to breathe can get you through anything, and I think until the end of life.
>> The breath is remarkable.
It's something that goes on automatically, and it's a good thing, because we can't go for long without breath.
And yet it's something that we can intervene.
Take a long deep breath in and another breath out.
But when we do this breath, we need a sound to help release that breath.
Many people aren't even aware of how much their breath changes with every emotional state.
And... (exhales)... ha-ha-ha-ha.
When someone is anxious, the breath becomes short and kind of tense.
When someone has just had the most relaxing vacation or just taken a time out or had a massage, the breathing slows way down and is often as deep as it will get.
You know, pay attention right after you wake up in the morning, especially on the weekend if you don't have to use your alarm.
The breathing is much more calm.
>> What it's done for me is help me to relax.
It's helping me to get rid of the pain.
>> On the other hand, if you're someone that tends to withdraw in times of stress or really turn inward or lose energy, get depressed, there are breathing exercises that you can do to increase your energy, to feel more alive, to feel more energized and engaged, and that's really wonderful.
You can use breath to both calm down and create energy?
All right, that's good.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
>> I'm still really learning things.
And as I go along, I learn as much from my students as I did from the masters.
So they may be learning from me, but I think I've got the greatest present.
I am the one that receives the most.
>> I think that I'm in a better physical state than I was, say, in my 30s, because everything was rigid, shoulders were rigid, arms were rigid, walking around, chest tight, you know, face like keep trying to smile while I'm running around like a maniac.
>> Can you see how breath is powerful?
>> Now everything's loose, everything's strong, and I just want to maintain that.
I need to make myself stronger and more limber and more balanced.
>> And slowly move the hands down.
>> Yoga is important as you get older because things start to turn to stone, and if you don't do the stretching and the pushing and the working, you're just going to turn into a couch potato.
It helps you not turn to stone.
You get those muscles loosened up.
>> And she looks great.
Except I can see her chin is lifted up.
That means there's some tension in the back of her neck.
>> If you've ever gone through one of Peggy's classes, you'll find the difference that she always talks about.
And she is very persistent at helping you through the process.
>> Bring your awareness to what?
We don't know what the future holds, but we do know that if we're proactive, envisioning a life for ourselves that is active, fun, interesting, enriching, filled with love, that's what we really want, but we need to do something about it now.
Whether you're young, middle aged or already in advanced years, you've got to address it, because the rewards are so incredibly great.
If you're inspired by this program, take action.
Nothing happens in life without taking action.
But take action for the best reason.
Take action to create a better sense of health and well-being for your own life.
This life is precious.
You want to take care of yourself as best you can.
So make sure that you get at least two and a half hugs before you leave.
All of us have some changes we want to make.
The best thing to do is to find a guide that will take you along the path, someone that has made those changes.
I have had people write me emails that said, "After doing your DVD once, I can feel the difference.
I love it."