90 Year Old Yoga Teacher in Central Park

I Am a Beginner

90 Year Old Yoga Teacher in Central ParkAs I age, I get less flexible, and my body is not always willing to do what my head deems possible. It seems I am in a very slow decline physically at 56 years old. I can’t accept that.

I understand why we wake up at 65 or so and are stiff and unable to do the things we took for granted all our lives. The decline is so slow as to be almost imperceptible, unless you are diligent in noticing those minute changes that sum to the end result.

So lately, in my effort to increase my ease of motion and flexibility, my try new thing has been yoga. I already do weights and treadmill  although while I was away I lost some serious ground in my abilities in both areas. So I was only missing the flexibility piece.

And yoga provides that piece along with some great strength training. It also gives you functional exercise…exercise that prepares your body for real life. Kind of fluid motion. Strength when and where you need it as you go about your day.

I have dabbled in yoga for a long time. In and Out. Never really engaging. Except for one strange inexplicable time when I wrote this post.

While I was away in Bali and Thailand, I participated in yoga classes almost every day. In marvelous outdoor studios with blue skies and fresh air. But I struggled still. I want to be good at what I do. And with yoga, I needed to spend the time in quiet practice to get to good. Impatience to experience the good things about yoga.

But, then again, is yoga about being good or being home in your body.

I felt like I was not good at yoga…I went to several classes at the gym since I have been home and I worked at all the asanas and two things were evident by the end of the class. One is that I was not very flexible. And secondly, that I was not very strong. And let me add a third thing…I could not wait until it was over. I thought maybe yoga was not my thing. Maybe I was too old to start.

So two weeks ago, I wandered into a new class and it turned out to be a beginner class. And I could suddenly do all the poses. And I loved every minute of the class. All sixty minutes of it. And when it was over I felt amazing. I loved it!

Without even realizing it, I had jumped into the deep end of the pool at my first swimming lesson! And now I was having fun in the shallow end.

Now I crave yoga. As long as it is within or slightly beyond my range of motion. When I do yoga, it reminds me of how I used to feel. What it felt like when I was a flexible roll-in-the-grass kid. That is what yoga does for you.

There are only two beginner yoga sessions at the gym to which I belong, and both of them are early in the week. I needed one more class to keep me flexible later in the week. So I went online and signed up at My Yoga Online and now for $7.95/m I get access to lots of beginner classes to fill my week. They have all levels, so as I get more flexible, I can grow with them.

The beginner classes there are amazing … tonight I did a 60 minute class that felt so peaceful. It didn’t feel long at all and the feeling of wishing it was over is gone. I want it to go on and on.

In three weeks I can see great gains in both my flexibility and balance, both of which will serve me well as I age.

I am a beginner. Hard to admit that as I have been quite physical all my life.

Along the way, I wondered if I had just jumped on another bandwagon with yoga. Kind of…everyone is doing it so I should do it. And I should love it. (Gotta stop shoulding)

But after these last three weeks, I realize it is so much more than that. The photograph is from an article about a vibrant 93-year-old woman who teaches yoga in Central Park.   I want to be able to do that! And now that I have recognized that I am a beginner, anything is possible.

16 Comments

  1. Great photo! I love hot yoga. Have a great weekend!

    • Kelly says:

      I have tried it but for the reasons above I did not love it. Maybe if I tried Beginners Hot yoga! :)

      Nice to hear from you!

  2. DJan says:

    What a great picture! I think there is a book called “beginner’s mind” that speaks directly to what you are experiencing. I did yoga in past years but now these days I only do aerobics, hiking, and weight lifting. Maybe I should think about starting again. I LOVE that picture! Who would not be inspired by her? :-)

    • Kelly says:

      DJan You are so right….who would not be inspired. At a time when people have stopped creating their lives, there she is in Central Park teaching aerobics!

      Flexibility and balance are two good reasons to do yoga….but many more appear as you go.

      Thanks for your thoughts here!

  3. Great blog. A very important thought! — Put aside the ego and don’t be afraid to be a beginner. I think in middle age it’s harder to do that? Also, my long-time yoga teacher used to say it was important even for advanced students to take a beginner class a few times every year because one always learns a lot by going back to basics. How true!

    • Kelly says:

      It is much harder to be a beginner in middle age…you are so right. And admitting that you are a beginner is a thoughtful step because everything changes after that!

      As I get more advanced, I will definitely keep your words in mind…to always go back to being a beginner. How wise!

  4. Moksha yoga is the only thing I have found that keeps me flexible and keeps me grounded through its quietness and meditative environment. It was my cocoon and I too craved it going 3-5 times a week. I gave it up about 6 mths ago and joined a gym as I thought I was not getting enough muscle strengthening. I was wrong and miss it so much. I feel my flexibility has deteriorated and aches more prevalent. At 59 yrs young I plan on re-joining so I too can maybe be like that inspiring woman in New York in her sunset years living life to the fullest. Life is a journey and this is how we learn what our bodies need. Mine definitely is telling me it needs yoga and I am listening. Quiet the mind, let levels of perceived competency go, and enjoy. Thanks for reminding me of my love for yoga! I will look forward to hearing more about your yoga experience!

    • Kelly says:

      Hello Joanne. Thanks for your input on my blog post. You are right that there is a time tradeoff and you need to do the most important elements to keep your body strong. So yoga or weights is a dilemma.

      That is so cool that the 93 year old woman inspired you as much as she did me. Imagine how interesting she would be to hang out with…her yoga is probably just the tip of a very interesting woman. Let’s do ninety just like she does!

  5. Barb says:

    Loved to read this as I am moving more towards yoga. I still walk in the pool and do some strength exercises but really want to concentrate on the meditation and flexibility. Unfortunately I cannot sit on the ground and ever get up with my knee, so I have found adapted classes through utube as well as seated rog.

    • Kelly says:

      Thanks for stopping by Barb. Your comment reminds me what I love most about yoga. You can do it at your own pace and ability and still have an incredible experience.

      I, too, had a sore shoulder and so was unable to do things as simple as child’s pose but as I worked around it, I found that doing yoga actually aided in my recovery.

  6. Heather Joynt says:

    Kelly, am so glad you and I are friends now. Am excited to read all your blogs and for them to inspire me as much as this one has. Am a beginner too. A little far away from yoga in Central Park at my Aunt Verna’s age but not really that far away. I can see that incredible experience happening so thank- you!

    • Kelly@Try New Things says:

      Hello Heather…so honored that you stopped to read my blog…now that you will be retired you will have lots of time for yoga and by the time we are her age, we just might be that good. Here’s to Central Park at 90 something.

  7. I just signed up for Advanced Yoga 1,2,3; getting deeper into the practice of yoga as a belief system, or lifestyle. I have done yoga for a very long time and always wanted to explore it more deeply, so here I go!

    • Kelly says:

      You must be so good at yoga to have joined Advanced yoga. I hope to be there one day. When I was in Belize I experienced the best yoga sessions that I have ever been a part of.I was at Abkol Yoga Retreat outside of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. They have a huge platform out in the water and that is where they do the class. And the classes are 1.5 – 2 hours long and they go by so fast. Good luck in moving deeper into your practice. I am far behind you but right where I need to be for now. :)

      Love keeping up with your dive experiences too.

      • tamwarner says:

        I have done yoga for a very long time…but the thing I like best about yoga is there is no competition. I have to modify quite a bit because of several physical issues I have. I have been wanting to go deeper into the philosophy and I am looking forward to it. Don’t worry about being “good” at it…just enjoy it and feel that it does you good.

        • Kelly says:

          Love how you look at it. While in Belize, I really felt for the first time that I was doing my own practice. Not sure why it came to me there. I will try to keep it with me now that I am back here.

          I like how you say that you modify your practice to work around some physical limitations. That is the great thing about yoga though. That you can modify it to flow with your own body and its moods and abilities.

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