Do you ever wonder what your yoga practice will be like when you’re 80?
I do. By the time I’m 80 I hope I’ll be able to do a decent Crow Pose (right now I look more like a ladybug). I wonder if I’ll still be teaching yoga like Tao Porchon-Lynch does—and she just turned 100.
While I have great expectations for the next three decades of my life, it seems that a lot of people have age-related stereotypes that really tick me off.
The other day I ran into one of my yoga students, Gloria, at the place where she volunteers. I’ve been teaching her weekly for the past seven years or so, and before that she studied with other yoga teachers for a number of years. She has an active lifestyle—she travels, bikes, hikes, volunteers, hangs out with her family a lot—and she is 80 years young this year.
She introduced me as her yoga teacher to a woman about my age, then I chimed in: “Yep, we keep moving together!”
The woman looked at me and whispered, “How cute!”
Questions flew through my mind. Why the whisper? Why “cute”? Did she think this 80-year-old is just pretending to do yoga?
She was probably trying to be nice, but I was offended.
What does she think we do in yoga class? I thought. My student’s practice isn’t cute, it’s courageous!
I didn’t have my manners turned on—and was no longer in the mood to talk anyway—so regretfully missed the opportunity to express how talented this 80-year-old is. It’s amazing what she and her fellow yoginis accomplish in their senior-status yoga class every week. As of lately those accomplishments have included Gate Pose, Triangle, Side Warrior, Warrior, Tree Pose, Eagle Pose, Cobras, Runner Flow, Downward Dog - with good form of course!
But what I should’ve said is, “Gloria is a badass yogini. You should see her Cat Bows!”
I have found it in my heart to forgive the woman—and myself. And I realize that people sometimes say unintentionally offensive things when they’re just trying to make conversation.
I love my senior-status yogis and yoginis because they are demonstrating to their grandchildren what 80+ looks like-
strong, upright, and balanced! And fearless and free!