All those years when I should have taken my body out of its comfort zone, I was too busy. I had a full household of kids and step-kids, aging parents, and a CBC Radio producer’s job. It never occurred to me that I had the time for, and I didn’t have the interest in, extraneous physical activity.
The women I knew, those in my generation – I’m 78 – didn’t run for the fun of it, didn’t join a fitness club and only occasionally played golf or tennis, mostly for the social perks. I did none of those things.
Luckily, my constitution was more forgiving than I had any right to expect. No arthritis, no replacement parts, just some chronic back pain when I was in my 40s. I did about six years of Tai Chi and since then have had no back pain.
Years later, because I come from a long line of women with osteoporosis, I became concerned when my bone density hovered just above the worry zone. My doctor recommended Yoga. That was about four years ago.
I joined the Gentle Beginners’ classes on Wednesday mornings at Esther Myers Yoga Studio partly because I live nearby and partly because of the Studio’s good reputation.
Wise people say that it’s the student’s responsibility to find her teacher, but I just got lucky. Tama Soble was my first instructor, and the only one I want. I hope never to graduate from her introductory course because, week after week, the practice never seems stale. She finds new ways to think about old body parts.
When Tama says, “Sink into the ground,” I sink into the ground. When she asks, “Can you feel your breath in your head?”, I feel my breath in my head.
The class is almost always small, and I think that each of us feels we get special attention. She remembers who’s looking for relief for her knees, her shoulder, and who is recovering from surgery. When people ask me what kind of Yoga I do, I say Slow. I could say Beneficial. Deep. Comforting, at the same time as Challenging. It is Definitely Non-competitive.
I do it at home, not as often as I should of course, but when I begin to feel overwhelmed I take out my mat, shut the bedroom door, lie down and breathe and move in ways that put me back together.
I’m happy to say that my two daughters, now in their 40s, both with demanding professional lives, practise Yoga. So does my 7-year-old granddaughter who thinks my Downward Facing Dog is hysterical.
During last month’s bone density test, I was thrilled to learn that the numbers had actually gone up! True, it’s only a snapshot, and next year’s results could reverse. Still it’s encouraging to discover that something I love doing can also be good for me.