I first tried yoga about a month ago. I am not necessarily proud of that fact. Over the years, so many friends and family have counseled me to try it, give it a go, open up my mind to the possibilities. Even my mother — hardly an athlete of any kind — was a die-hard yogi for many years. I just never felt the pull. Until it came to me — obviously very late in life — that I might be able to use some of the stretching and breathing exercises at the very least.
I attended a class with my sister who is a relative newcomer to the practice — but, fair to be said, she will participate in anything that keeps her body moving. Though I was very clumsy and stiff, I actually enjoyed the session. Whether it was the conscious breathing or simply the peacefulness, I couldn’t figure it out, but I came away wondering if I might need some more of that stuff to assist the body bits that are achy or creaking these days. My stupid knee injury has taught me way too much about the tedious timeline for successful healing when you are — ahem — a tad past middle age.
I returned home and husband was complaining about his stiff shoulder. “We should do yoga,” I tell him. And then I see that he has already purchased a mat and blocks for his knees. What was going on here?
Our first yoga session was on YouTube with the beautiful lithe and supple Adrienne. She was so lovely and patient with her “Yoga for Seniors” patient voice intact. She made you feel as if it was OK if you couldn’t get up off the floor very quickly or actually at all — a chair would suffice — as long as you kept breathing and working on your practice. (You learn a new language when you break into the yoga world.) But we felt we could do this — even us stiff old pensioners.
There we were — down on the mat doing our cat poses, or tabletops, and it all felt pretty darn good and doable. We would finish after the 20-minutes or so with our muscles nice and warm and our halos shining. We both admitted to feeling more supple already after our first class and continued to repeat the same session several more times. Who knew there was such a wealth of coaching and training videos on YouTube? They are surely not making them for the money or the glory, but us oldies out there in TV land really appreciate all their hard work.
“You had a yoga trainer come to the house?” Our daughter was incredulous. “Na, just Adrienne.” I replied cryptically. “A chick from YouTube.” “OMG, dad is really doing yoga?” I could sense her curiosity had been piqued. Our son too. “Dad is doing YOGA???” The text came over from the depths of Sacramento. Increasingly, I think more men are appreciating the benefits that yoga can give them and it’s quite a unisex practice; though husband has never been one to jump right in and participate in any kind of sport. This has been rather a nice surprise for all.
This weekend would have been my mother’s 90th birthday and I wonder what she would have made of all this yoga practice going on at Solace. She would likely have sniffed and said it was about time I absorbed all its many benefits, before advising me to not immediately try and stand on my head or I would break my neck.
It feels good to try new things. Whether or not, you can get up from the floor once down there and then the bursts of giggles mean that you definitely cannot rise from the mat anytime soon; or the dogs decide to try and do some downward dog with you and hang very close to you on the mat, you must not be distracted. The early morning breezes stream in through the screen door and the calming mists over the Salinas River bring to mind all the opportunities of the new day ahead. It’s a good way to start the day, even if you really suck at the practice.
I don’t think I’ve ever paid so much attention to breathing in my entire life; but Adrienne tells you to listen to your body and focus on your consistent inhaling and exhaling and that feels like a simply good thing to do. I’ve observed that I hold my breath when I get tense and I wonder if I have always done that. It can’t be good for one, and I shall endeavor in the future to be more like Adrienne. She’s a solid breather.
I don’t know if we will ever graduate to Adrienne Part 2, or perhaps a YouTube class for the seniors who now know how to do a little yoga, but I’m glad we found it, however late in life, and however appalling we are at the practice. I’m enjoying the release of tension and the exchange of oxygen, even if some of my twists and turns and stretches could be a little more impressive in scope and style. As Adrienne would say, “the intent and the integrity” are there.
I’m happy to learn yoga and whatever she can teach me about improving my mobility and easing up my creaky bits for the rest of my life to come. I may not be able to run a marathon anymore — truthfully never could. I may struggle sometimes to walk my dogs as much as they would like and I no longer ride horses, but guess what, I can do yoga, whatever that means. I can try something new that will likely benefit my body and how lucky am I to have the opportunity! Embrace the new gifts that come along in life and let go of the youthful activities you can no longer enjoy. Inhale and exhale, it can be as simple as that. Give it a try.
“Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth” —Desiderata