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Teacher Training

Gentle Years Yoga Teacher Training

In September 2017 Yorkshire Yoga hosted the in-person training days for the most recent Gentle Years Yoga training module, tutored by Laura Bissell (BWY) and Jenny Howsam (BWY).

Gentle Years Yoga Trainees with tutors, Laura Bissell and Jenny Howsam

After beginning their ‘Anatomy and Physiology – Modifications for Older Adults’ online training in August, sixteen yoga teachers from across the country met for three days of training and assessment.

First they observed a demonstration class by Jenny Howsam, with current Gentle Years Yoga students.  Jenny noted that, “It is useful to start by seeing how all the elements come together.  I was also very grateful to the students in my Gentle Years classes who agreed to come along to participate in the demonstration, and to talk to the trainees afterwards about their experience of yoga.”

This was followed by a presentation on the Psychology of Ageing and then a series of  practical sessions that covered all the elements of a Gentle Years Yoga class.

The highlight of the second day was a demonstration lesson suitable for frailer adults in a care home setting, where the students got the chance to role play many of the conditions common to older adults.  Teacher Laura Bissell had her work cut out meeting the needs of all these students.  “It was hard work,” she said, “But it allowed the students to get a feel for what it would be like teaching yoga in this setting.  It can be quite daunting to go into this environment, but very satisfying.”  One thing the students commented on was the insight it gave them into how their own students may be feeling during their classes. One person commented,  “Not being able to move properly made me feel very isolated.  Also, I felt guilty about the amount of time the helper had to spend with me when so many other people needed her help.”

At the end of the three days, the students have gone away to work on the written parts of the course; a 10 week scheme of work, detailed lesson plan and two case studies.  Their course will finish in August 2018.

The next iteration of this course to be held at Yorkshire Yoga, which is planned for Spring/Summer 2018, will also be co-tutored by Laura Bissell and Jenny Howsam. Anyone who is interested in enrolling, or who simply would like to know a little more about it, can get details from Jenny (

You can read about the Gentle Years Yoga training in the July 2017 edition of Spectrum.

BWY pilot training module
Teaching Gentle Years Yoga

The BWY National Focus Group on Older People and Age-Related Conditions recommended 2 initiatives to the BWY National Executive Committee (NEC) –

  1. to register BWY as a Dementia Friends organisation so that it can raise awareness and promote dementia friendly communities through its nationwide network of yoga teachers
  2. to create, develop and pilot a Teacher Training module in Teaching Gentle Years Yoga for BWY Teachers and BWY Student-Teachers

We have recently completed the first stage of the BWY Gentle Years Yoga teacher training pilot.  During February half-term 2016 eight BWY Yoga Teachers received practical training in Gentle Years Yoga from BWY tutors Jenny Howsam and Laura Bissell.

Jenny first taught a typical Gentle Years Yoga class observed by the trainees. We would like to express our thanks to the students from Jenny’s classes who came to be participants and have their photos taken for the BWY magazine. Their comments about how valuable the programme is to them and their constructive feedback to the trainees who got to micro-teach sessions with the older adults during the training week were of tremendous benefit to the trainee-teachers.

The trainees then completed their 10-week course plans for the research project that was conducted between April and July 2016.

BWY  launched the national pilot of this training programme in February 2017 (see BWY website for details of the training and location of the face-to-face days.)

Four trainee teachers – Bottom L to R: Rachel, Elly, Steph and Yvonne – were
helped to hone their teaching by Gentle Years Yoga students from Jenny’s class.
They then taught the Harrogate classes as part of the research project.