It has come to my attention that some men and women over 50 years of age are actually afraid to try yoga!
Even writing that sentence feels strange because yoga, of all the fitness programs out there, feels the most inclusive to me. When I started going to yoga classes about ten years ago, I started small — learning from DVD’s first and then wading into beginner yoga classes. I suppose I was lucky because, when I say beginner classes, I mean beginner classes. I was with others who were huffing and puffing as much as I was in a simple downward-facing dog pose. We were all pretty much on the same basic level of doing our best without looking all that great.
But…and here’s the big but…I kept at it. These days, I’m not afraid to try any yoga class — even though I’m often the oldest person in the room — and here’s why:
1. It’s your yoga — Heidi Kristoffer, certainly one of the happiest and best yoga teachers in New York, has said this to me more than once. It’s usually when I challenge myself and take her “strong” class at StralaYoga. She’ll tell me how great it is to see me in her class and I tell her I’ll do my best and she says, “It’s your yoga” meaning “Whatever you do is perfectly okay.” And it is. Trust me. Nearly everyone in a challenging class is just doing their best at keeping up with the postures and they’re not paying attention to you.
2. Embrace your age — When I look around a yoga class and see dozens of men and women much younger than myself, I feel great. Why? Because I’m there! I’m giving away 25, 30, even 35 years to most of them and yet, I can hold my own. That makes me feel great. I’m in the class, keeping pace with fit, toned people many years my junior. That’s an achievement so don’t feel bad about how old you are in yoga class — embrace it! You’re a champion!
3. No one cares how old you are — Yoga folk tend to be more compassionate, at least in the class. When I see someone older than myself or someone physically disabled (I’ve been in yoga classes with a guy who had only one arm), I just think ‘good for you.’ I don’t believe anyone is wishing they were not there — it doesn’t matter. Each person can do his or her own thing. Those around you might lend you energy but I’ve never felt anyone was holding me back!