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Why we've been going to yoga for decades

I’ve been going to the same Friday morning yoga class for about 35 years. But a few of the others in the group have also been there about as long as me. So I asked five of them why they keep turning up each week.

I started because I was a runner and I thought a bit of stretching would do me good. These days I go because yoga has me move in ways that I otherwise wouldn’t think of, and I like that. 

The other reason is that when I walk out of the class at 8.00am I feel light and happy. 

The five women I asked are in their 50s or 60s, and that’s the typical age of the group. For four of them, yoga has been part of their lives since they were teens or young adults. Even the newest member has been coming for 8 years. 

Partly it’s our teacher. She has a broad enough background in a range of movement modalities that she can craft a session that meets the needs of the group on any particular day. She asks what we need, reads the mood and shapes the class from there.

She also encourages us to ‘self-regulate’, to trust our bodies and do only what works. And her focus on moderation, awareness, respect and acceptance sets the tone of the class. She’s 60-something too.

Partly it’s also the group. I’ll admit that until a few of the women sent me email messages about this I didn’t know their surnames. Not that it mattered. I’ve spent so many hours in their presence that I know they’re wonderful women.

Aside from an occasional café breakfast after class, we don’t see much of each other outside yoga, but there’s something trustworthy and authentic about the kind of people who turn up to this at least once a week (some go twice) most weeks.

Finally, besides the teacher and the group, it’s what we do. It’s certainly physical, and several of the women say they’re getting stronger and more flexible as they get older — the opposite of what they might have expected in their 60s.

But it also has a mental and emotional component. We’ve learned that the way we use our breath can be stimulating or calming, and the combination of movement and breath gives us control over our mind and emotions. 

Of course, not all yoga classes are like this, and some of these experiences might be found in places other than a yoga class. But when you do find it, wherever you find it, it’s to be treasured.

Photo Source: Bigstock

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018 | Rhonda Anderson