“I like that your classes focus on seniors,”
one of my regular yoginis recently said to me.
This nice lady is an active adult in her 70s. (She’s also hip and trendy—I love that she wears sparkly eyeshadow.) Let’s call her Bunny. I’ve been her yoga teacher for just a couple years.
Not long before we connected, Bunny tried out an introductory class at a different yoga studio, a class meant to welcome new people.
When she arrived, the class was already full, with most students about half her age. She took the only spot available, at the front of the room. When the teacher told the students to simply watch if they felt any of the poses were too challenging, Bunny positioned herself so she was facing the other students instead of the wall.
Here's where it gets funny. As Bunny tells it:
“The first thing the teacher told me to do was turn around and face the wall in the same direction as the others. But then I could observe no one and I had no idea what to do.”
I’ll mention that Bunny has a post-surgery knee issue, so adapting postures is important for her to prevent pain and injury. Bunny did as she was told, but turned around again before long. Entirely out of her comfort zone, she needed to watch how the other students were executing the postures.
“When I finally sat down out of discouragement,” Bunny recalls, “the teacher came over to me and said the others might feel uncomfortable with me watching them, so she moved me to the far side of the room against [another] wall.”
The teacher never asked how she was feeling, never offered modifications. Is it fair to say she age-shamed Bunny? That was Bunny’s takeaway, in any case:
“I felt ostracized and very embarrassed.
I just lay there until the end of class.
I should have left!”
Here’s the icing on the cake:
“At the end,” Bunny says, “the teacher cheerily told me to try a different class!”
I recognize that being a yoga instructor is not an easy job some days. You have to walk into a room, potentially with 30 to 40 students, with no idea about anyone’s health history or ability level. Maybe the teacher thought Bunny would be able to see everybody better from the back corner. Whatever the case, I forgive the teacher for being clueless—and I forgive myself for judging her.
Bunny’s bad yoga class experience gives me a chance to offer so much respect and gratitude for the Sassy Seniors in my life who show up every week, fearless and free and ready to learn.
Everyone—including older adults—should be treated with love, respect and patience.
That’s why things are different here at Supergirl Fitness.
Small class sizes, individualized attention. A safe place to find your people—and transform your health.