I often think that I’ll be practising yoga well into my 90s, even though sometimes it’s a struggle to keep at it even now. But I feel so good when I do it, and it has incredible benefits. I have to admit that I’m from the ‘old school’ of yoga. When people in classes ask me how long I’ve been practising for, I can honestly say over 30 years. This doesn’t mean that I have been diligent or faithful in my practice – alas, I have lapsed many times. However this year I have gone back to it with renewed vigour.
Yoga is a whole new world now. Yoga used to be just yoga, before it became popularized by stars like Madonna. So I think that all these years, I’ve been practising Hatha Yoga. I was first introduced to it by Kareen Zebroff of Vancouver who should be credited with bringing it to the attention of the western world. We had her book, and I recall attempting various poses when I was in my mid teens – this was in the 1970s, around the time she had her TV show. I didn’t get serious about it though until I reached my late twenties, and a neighbour of mine was teaching it. I joined the class, and this not too long after my second child was born. I felt so good while doing it that I vowed to continue. But upheaval in life and moving around made it difficult, then finally four years later when I was attending university in the early 90s, I found an instructor who was just amazing. It was funny, in fact, because when she and I met, we felt that we both knew each other. Under her tutelage – I had private lessons, I reached the pinnacle of my ability. She told me after a few months that she had no more to teach me, and that I should consider being a teacher of yoga. It wasn’t easy in those days however – the only place of instruction was in Boston, and I couldn’t uproot my children or spend the time away getting the training.
I dabbled in yoga for years after that, never achieving the same ‘heights’ I had achieved under her. Various injuries impeded me from fully performing postures, for a long time but now that I have decided to get serious about it again, I am slowly getting back to where I used to be. I generally practise at home, although I have tried a couple of local classes, and although I am against it in principle, even went to Bikram ‘hot’ yoga. I do this in order to join my daughter who loves it. I can do it, and I feel good afterwards, but find the ‘military’ approach off-putting. I think in today’s lingo, the yoga I prefer is Yin yoga.
I had a wonderful surprise this week – seeing a picture of my 7 month old grandson performing the posture ‘downward dog’ with his mother. I couldn’t believe it – it was perfect! Now I am motivated more than ever to keep going and I envision us doing yoga together when I am old and he is grown up. That might be a fantasy, but it never occurred to me that it isn’t only that a person is never too old for yoga, but they are also never too young.