Yoga for Seniors

December 1, 2011 by · Comments Off 


By Katie Simpson

Bryan Robbins, 65, might not fit the mold for the typical yoga goer but that’s what makes him so unique. As coach of the SMU diving team, Robbins started teaching yoga to his swimmers in 1971 because it was important for their flexibility and overall mindset.

“I’ve been doing yoga since 1969 and I practice five times a week, that has been consistent for over 40 years,” said Robbins, who is retired but still teaches yoga classes part-time at SMU.

Robbins is not alone in his quest for good health and wellbeing. While some may think yoga is only for the young and lithe, a 2008 study by Yoga Journal found that an estimated 15.8 million Americans practice yoga, and of those nearly 20 percent are over 55. Seniors all over Dallas have been jumping onboard, practicing yoga in their homes, churches, retirement communities and assisted living facilities.

Yoga has been around for more than 5000 years and experts agree that no matter how old you are it provides many benefits, both mentally and physically. However, as you age, older people struggle with issues that may not be relevant to a younger population, and practicing yoga may help prevent or even reverse certain diseases.
“You can’t ever stop aging, but with regular exercise and proper nutrition you can delay the progression,” says Kerry Stallo, CEO of Age Intercept, a Dallas company that specializes in fitness for people over 50.

Stallo, who has been taking yoga for 13 years, says she started focusing on senior fitness when she noticed a niche in the market.

When Stallo would visit her mother in the hospital, she saw many middle-aged people who were also there, getting treated for things like high blood pressure and diabetes.

“When I went to the hospital I noticed there were many people who didn’t need to be there,” said Stallo.

Yoga is highly recognized for its physical benefits, which include increasing flexibility and strengthening muscles.

“As you age you have a tendency to loss muscle mass and flexibility, so the older you get the more you have to keep moving,” said Robbins.

Janet Hennard, 65, also an avid yogi, started taking classes in 1977. Today she teaches lessons to seniors, which she refers to as “Gentle Yoga”, every Tuesday at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Richardson.

Hennard says one of the most important aspects of yoga is that it helps a person’s balance, which can create a lot of stress and strain on the body if not taken care of.

“Increasing your balance is so important as you age because it helps to prevent falls among seniors,” says Hennard.

Experts say yoga can also help lower high blood pressure, reduce overall joint pain, improve posture, and prevent and even reverse osteoporosis. Along with the physical benefits, yoga can also be mentally valuable by helping people relax and calm down.

“I think the stress of today’s world is a major reason why people take yoga, just to get away and unwind,” says Robbins.

“Yoga is about a connection between your mind, body and spirit. It allows someone to be at peace with the troubles in their life,” says Hennard.

Indra Kaur, 61, who has been practicing yoga for 15 years, says not only does it set her mood for the day but it also makes her feel emotionally balanced.

Kaur’s initial interest in the art began when she was living and working in Southeast Asia.
“Down there yoga is a part of your lifestyle, it’s incorporated into every part of what you do during the day,” said Kaur, who now lives in Denton.

Not only does Kaur practice yoga seven days a week, starting every morning with a personal session, but she also teaches three group classes and 11 private lessons each week.

“I have students as old as 84 years old and trust me, they are darn good yogis,” says Kaur.

Another reason why so many seniors seem to enjoy yoga is that it can be self-paced and you can adjust the intensity level to where you feel comfortable.

“Yoga is not a no pain, no gain type of exercise,” says Hennard.

While some people pay up to $140 per month for a membership to a yoga studio, experts say it is just as easy to practice at home for very little cost. All you need is a mat and a DVD.

“Yoga is just wonderful, it makes me feel energized and relaxed at the same time,” says Hennard.

Seniors, Are You Ready For Graduation?

February 23, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Aida Ahmed

February is coming to an end and for seniors that means less than three months until graduation.

With midterms right around the corner and the usual chaos of the school year, it is no wonder that many seniors have yet to start planning for graduation ceremonies.

Cate Hamilton, coordinator of administration, said that this year more students than usual have not yet filed to graduate.

“In reviewing credit hours alone, we currently have 2,580 students who may be eligible to participate in May commencement, however 850 of those students have not yet filed their Application for Candidacy to Graduate (ACG) with their school of record,” Hamilton said. “That is a lot compared to the number of students who may be on track to graduate. We find that students are not aware that they need to file an ACG in order to participate in commencement weekend activities.”

Hamilton said if students have not filed their ACG but do intend on participating in commencement weekend, they are missing out on communications from graduation related vendors, as well as from the university.


“Students who have completed their ACG will have a much easier time at the Grad Fair coming up on Feb. 24-25, as we will have their information on file and ready, should they need it to order their announcements, cap and gown,” Hamilton said.

With a significant portion of students yet to file, those who have say that its about all they have done in their preparation for graduation.

Senior religious studies major, Alicia Bos, said she filed for graduation back in January when she realized the deadline was quickly approaching.

“I honestly forgot about it until somebody was like, you have to apply,” Bos said.

Other than filing, Bos says she really hasn’t focused on preparing for the ceremonial part of graduation.

“I’ve notified my family but really I’ve just been spending my time job searching,” Bos said.

She also said she hasn’t received or noticed any e-mails in her inbox with reminders of graduation and the graduation fair.

“I think we might have to meet with our advisor but other than that I don’t know,” said Bos.

Meadows degree counselor, Janet Stephens, said that graduating seniors in the Meadows School of the Arts can technically file up to the week before graduation, but it might mean they won’t be able to graduate.

“We’ll file you at whatever point you come in,” Stephens said. “The negative is that you may discover that you have hours left that you don’t know about. You’ll get to participate in the graduation ceremonies but you won’t actually receive your diploma.”

The actual deadline to file for graduation was January 25, so if students find that they are missing some requirements, they are out of luck.

Students who are only missing six hours or less can participate in the ceremonies, but must complete their remaining hours in the summer term. To do this they must file a “Walk” petition with their school of record.

Stephens advises students who haven’t applied yet to come in as soon as possible.

“Nobody is graduating if they haven’t come to see us, so just come in and let us go through your degree progress report,” Stephens said.

But filing to graduate is just the first step. Hamilton says students should still keep in mind the $45 Apply to Graduate Fee that is due by the time they graduate. If it is not paid, graduates will not receive their diploma during the diploma presentation ceremony.

A good resource seniors can use is the May Graduation Fair that is taking place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday Feb. 24 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday Feb. 25 in the Laura Lee Blanton building in rooms 110 and 112.

At the fair, students will receive ceremony instructions and guest information, as well as order their class ring from Balfour and order regalia, invitations and announcements from Herff Jones. Seniors can also order a yearbook and get professional cap and gown photographs taken.

Students with more questions should refer to the May Commencement section of the registrar’s website or visit their degree counselor.

Handy Contacts:
Cox Undergraduate/BBA Office – 252 Maguire / 214.768.3003
Dedman Undergraduate Records Office – 214 Dallas Hall / 214.768.2298
Lyle Undergraduate Advising & Student Records Office – 400 Caruth Hall / 214.768.1457
Meadows Undergraduate Academic Services – 202 U Lee / 214.768.2754

SMU, Dallas Community Colleges Expand Transfer Agreement

August 21, 2010 by · Comments Off 

SMU seniors Dylan Lewis and Daniela Balderas pose with SMU President Turner and DCCCD Chancellor Wright Lassiter as they sign a new articulation agreement. (COURTESY PHOTO / CLAYTON T. SMITH)

By Aida Ahmed

Transfers make up a good portion of the undergraduate student population at Southern Methodist University. About 400 students transfer to SMU every year and 60 percent of these students come from two-year institutions. Part of the reason why some of these students find it easy to transfer is because of SMU’s partnership with the Dallas County Community College District to provide scholarships and class-credit transfers.

On Aug. 16, SMU President R. Gerald Turner and DCCCD Chancellor Wright Lassiter signed a new set of agreements that will continue to make it easier for students in the district system to make the transition to a four-year university.

The DCCCD is SMU’s biggest source of incoming transfers. At the signing ceremony, Provost Paul Ludden said that in the past five years, 604 students have transferred to SMU from the district. About 75 percent of transfers in the past ten years went on to graduate.

SMU seniors Daniela Balderas and Dylan Lewis are two first-generation college students who made their way to SMU through the DCCCD transfer process.

Balderas, a marketing and Spanish double major, transferred to SMU in 2009 from Eastfield Community College. Upon graduating from high school she did not receive enough financial aid to attend SMU, but still continued on to obtain an associate’s degree from Eastfield. With the help of the transfer scholarship, she came to SMU and is now a student ambassador.

Dylan Lewis shares a similar story. He is a non-traditional college student who never thought he would attend college, yet came back to school at the age of 23.

“The more classes I took at DCCC, the more I wanted to go further,” Lewis said. “I said I would do everything in my power to succeed.”

He, too, transferred from Eastfield and was the first recipient of the Erin Tierney Kramp Transfer Scholarship, which covers full tuition for up to five semesters at SMU.

President Turner expressed his commitment to SMU’s transfer partnership and said he was delighted that the program has had a positive impact on the school and on students. Turner said SMU has room to accommodate new students at the junior level and wants to continue working with the DCCCD so that students who have graduated with an associate’s degree can come to SMU to get a bachelor’s degree.

As Lassiter pointed out, the program also aids in closing the diversity gap at SMU. Although most students who transfer are older than traditional students, on average, about 28 percent of transfer students from DCCCD are minorities.

SMU offers ten full scholarships every fall to Dallas area community college transfers who transfer with 50 credit hours and a 3.7 GPA. The school also offers half-tuition scholarships for honors transfers in addition to several other transfer scholarships.

A new articulation agreement between Turner and Lassiter spells out guidelines for transferring community college toward a four-year SMU degree. A reverse-transfer agreement permits students to transfer SMU credits back to their community college as well.

Once a transfer student himself, President Turner believes that some students have to take a different path to finish college.

“There’s more than one way to end up getting a degree,” Turner said.