For us elders, fitness is an activity to be ignored at our peril. We need as much exercise as our old bodies will allow. This means stretching to keep the joints flexible and breathing hard in whatever cardiovascular pursuit we choose.
I’ve been a yoga practitioner all my adult life. Back in the early 70’s, when yoga was considered either esoteric or just plain weird, I was one of Toronto’s early teachers. Later, I added distance running to my fitness routine. I loved this sport. For me, yoga and running are the perfect combination. Yoga doesn’t do much for cardiovascular fitness, but running kept my lungs and heart in good shape.
I’m too old now for running. In fact, any pounding of my septuagenarian joints would seem unwise. Fortunately, we’re never too old for yoga, especially these days when a wide variety of types of yoga are there just for the joining.
When I moved to Kingston, I knew there would be yoga classes. This was my chance to try something new.
I came across Bikram Hot Yoga? Now there was something I’d never tried. I’d been curious about hot yoga and decided to try it out.
It was time for my first class when I spread my mat on the warm wood floor and stretched out along with my fellow yoga students. Suddenly I felt very self-conscious. I was the only one over 50 in this hot room. The others, with their young bodies, wore just enough straps and cloth to cover their privates. Well, it couldn’t be helped. I wanted to experience hot yoga and I’d just have to tolerate being the old lady among young athletes. Being obscenely covered in a bikini was out of the question.
The room was filling with two rows of mats. The teacher had cautioned me to head for the back row where it was cooler and where I could watch the others. The room was becoming hotter and hotter. I looked up at the ceiling at wide shiny pipes, the source of all this warmth. In addition, heaters stood on the floor.
Bikram yoga consists of the same 26 poses in every class. It is meant for beginners as well as advanced students. Our teacher explained that the class was right for all ages, even a 70 year-old woman. I was relieved and pleased that, for the most part, I could keep up. My classmates expressed their admiration for the fact that it was my first class.
After the class, I felt really wonderful and the next day I experienced no stiffness. This was, indeed, a profoundly different experience. I returned a couple of times after that and began to imagine myself as a super-fit 80-year-old.
I’ll leave you at that point of my story. You can read more in future blogs and when I finally finish and publish my memoir, Aging and Staying in Charge of Your Life.