By Andrea Vasquez

Practicing wellness and mindfulness is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle physically and mentally. Staying physically active on any level can help relieve pain, increase energy, improve mood, and help with balance to prevent detrimental falls.

San Jacinto College’s Continuing and Professional Development (CPD) division hosts a number of free workshops, classes, and information sessions for senior citizens and other community members to learn and participate in beginning to advanced level wellness activities.

“We are committed to improving and supporting the health and well-being of seniors in our community,” said Dr. Janice Sullivan, CPD division dean of community education. “Our students have commented about the improvement they have experienced, including better balance and relaxation. We collaborate with institutions such as MD Anderson Cancer Center, Healthy Living Matters –  Harris County Public Health, and the City of Pasadena to bring quality courses to our community. There are classes for everyone regardless of fitness level, and we offer flexible day and evening schedules.”

This fall, CPD offered MD Anderson and the Kelsey Research Foundation’s Active Living After Cancer (ALAC) program to local seniors. Funded by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the eight-week program offered support and resources for cancer survivors and their caregivers. 

“When seniors increase their physical activity and are encouraged to walk and exercise every day, they enjoy the benefits of  better health,” said Luz Yadira Pena, Kelsey Research health educator and wellness instructor. “Many participating senior caregivers and survivors have reported that their cholesterol, sugar levels, and blood pressure have improved. Other ALAC participants have commented on how their sleep patterns have improved when they walk or use their resistance bands during the week.”

Jhanizs Gabbard, CPD therapeutic yoga instructor, says yoga, especially therapeutic yoga, is an optimal system of self-care for senior citizens (or anyone) who desire to stay active with a more adaptable and accessible approach to physical activity.

“Therapeutic yoga has been scientifically proven effective for all people with a broad range of individual needs,” said Gabbard. “As the physical and mental bodies begin to degenerate with age, therapeutic yoga aims to promote, maintain, and restore joint range of motion while strengthening the musculoskeletal system. It also promotes and stimulates deep awareness of balance, coordination, flexibility, and proper breathing.”

Strengthening the body while stimulating the mind is perhaps the most beneficial aspect to yoga. 

“Therapeutic yoga offers numerous tools to stimulate cognitive and motor skills, which lead to alertness, creativity, better mood, better memory, and self-motivation,” added Gabbard. 

Yoga classes are available through the San Jacinto College CPD division at the Central Campus. Classes begin Jan. 14 and have a number of sessions through April 14. For more information, visit or contact the Central or South Campus CPD office at 281-542-2020.