Yoga Class With the Seniors – Is This What I’ll be Like in Twenty Years?

by Nancy Wurtzel on February 27, 2013

When I lived in California, I had a yoga membership at a local studio and could take all of the classes I wanted.  It was pretty great.  At my new home near Minneapolis, I’ve not yet found a yoga center that offers the classes I want at the times I need.

Luckily, over the holidays, I was paging through a community education catalog  — everything from knitting to dance and parenting to cooking.  In the fitness section was a list of affordable exercise classes, including one for moderate yoga.  The class was just a mile from my house.

Perfect!

What I didn’t realize was that the class was held at our local senior center.  Out of the 10 or so attendees, I’m the youngest by at least two decades.  The age difference is the opposite of yoga classes I’ve taken in the past — normally, I’m on the older side, trying my hardest to keep up with the nimble and youthful participants.

I’m liking the role reversal.  Liking it very much, actually.

The class is also giving me a glimpse into what type of yogini I might be in the future.

For example, I’ve learned that passing gas is very much like yawning.  Once someone in class lets one loose, then it spreads like wildfire.  No one seems to give a hoot, or should I say toot.

Gas is not the only noise that is made.  Participants huff, puff and occasionally groan.

They also talk freely.  Every time we do the downward dog pose, Shirley tells a little story about her little terrier pup who loves to take walks in the snow.  Inevitably, someone else has a dog story and that leads to yet another anecdote.  Senior yoga is more casual, and everyone has a story to tell.

The students also don’t hold back.  In last week’s class, a sweet grandma informed our teacher that she must talk louder, “My joints are making so many creaking sounds that I can’t hear you!”  This week, the same woman muttered to no one in particular: “I think I just pulled something in my ass.”  Someone replied, “Welcome to my world,” and five people responded “Amen” in unison.

Through it all, Annette, who teaches the class, speaks often about older people bringing wisdom and patience to yoga — something that is missing in her younger students.

Annette is joyful when she teaches, and I have to say that most of the class participants seem pretty joyful as well.  They are happy to be there and happy they are fit enough for the class, which is more strenuous than I had anticipated.  Everyone tries their hardest and they smile and laugh through the poses.

Who can ask for more?

I probably wouldn’t have signed up for this class had I realized it was at a senior center.  But it has been a great way to slide back into an exercise routine, and it has taught me yoga doesn’t have to be so serious and proper.  You can turn decorum upside down and still have a great experience.

Amen.

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sandra June 3, 2013 at 1:17 pm

OK, I’m a senior. Here’s the opposite of your story. I wanted to learn yoga. Went to what I thought was an easy class, for beginners. I suddenly see these buff men and women come in with their matts, very proper clothing and very skinny bodies. But I figure. It’s supposed to be an easy class for pregnant women. Not one in site. The yoga was so difficult and I felt like such a fool I’ve never been back and walk the hills instead saying, Ommmmm.

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2 Nancy Wurtzel June 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Oh, that’s such a bummer! I’ve had similar experiences when I’ve taken a few months off and then start taking gentle classes again. Some teacher (especially the young ones) don’t know the meaning of GENTLE!!!!

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3 Ronda April 19, 2013 at 6:00 pm

My yoga teacher became my best friend and she is 20 years older than I am! Her extended family are like family to me. I don’t go to class any more and she has retired from teaching but the basics of yoga will stay with me forever.
Thank you for such a lovely REAL article.

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4 Nancy Wurtzel April 19, 2013 at 6:13 pm

What a lovely comment!! Thank you so very much. Please come back to read again. Would love to know how you learned of my blog.

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5 BurtonPowell March 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm

You have some lovely experiences with some seniors which is quit amazing really. I want some experiences but there is no chance for me. but now i am thinking to go back my home and immediately join the Yoga Studio Honolulu.

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6 Judy March 14, 2013 at 9:53 am

The only yoga I’ve done was on a Wii program for exercise, but it did help me get more limber. My friend with Parkinson’s said it helped her too stay more limber, as that’s a problem with parkinsons. By the way she was in Minnesota last week, fell on ice, broke a vertebra in her back, had a new type of surgery where they ream out the vertebra with a pin and insert cement and wah lah you are on your way to normalcy immediately. She’s due back in Texas today, one week later. Amazing. But about the farting, in my house hubby and I don’t need the yoga for that, we just eat beans or spaghetti (yes spaghetti) and we walk musically through the house taking turns and laughing at each other.

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7 Domenic Cramarossa March 13, 2013 at 11:21 am

Hi Nancy, gave up thursday night pick-up hockey for yoga . My wife has early onset alzheimer’s she’s 57. Yoga has been a great help in coping with AD. Living in the here and now meditation brings awareness to the present moment. Most people tend to live in the past or the future in their minds. Thanks you for making me smile today and oh yes I have let a few go too…

Thanks Dom

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8 Nancy Wurtzel March 13, 2013 at 11:57 am

Hey Dom, Appreciate you coming to read and for the comment. Wow, you have a challenge with your wife and I am thinking of you. What a cruel disease. Yes, we just have to live for right now. All the best, Nancy

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9 Jane Morrison March 1, 2013 at 8:12 am

Nancy, welcome to Minnesota. Yoga helps me in so many ways, especially get through the winter. Thanks for sharing a joyful post. I lost both my parents in the last few years and was surrounded by their wisdom and mischief of their friends. I heard once that older women feel like teenagers stuck in an old woman’s body. My mom was trying to find the perfect mascara in the last month of her life. As we age, I think we relate more to our elders value and become less dismissive of them. They are truly gems.

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10 Phyllis February 28, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I must have taken your spot in the California studio – I’m the only one with grey hair, sweating and trying to keep my balance.

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11 Wendy February 27, 2013 at 10:50 pm

So hilarious! I love the unpretentiousness of it all. I shared this with my FB friends too.

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12 Nancy Wurtzel March 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Hey Wendy…sorry, you went into spam but I found your comment today! Thanks for reading and for sharing!!!

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13 Lori Lavender Luz February 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm

In some ways I’m a yogini ahead of my time.

But I’m not telling what ways ;-)

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14 Nancy Wurtzel February 27, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Ha! Thanks for reading, Lori!

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15 Misha February 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Sounds like such a wonderful class!!
One of the things I love about hanging out people with a few (or a lot!) of years on me is the irreverence and sense of fun, and the lightness with which wisdom is shared.
Joyful farting… i love it. Thank you Nancy, for a lovely post

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16 Nancy Wurtzel February 27, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Hey Misha, So happy you enjoyed! Yes, I love that “joyful farting” as well…come back to read again soon.

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17 Jane Gassner (@MidLifeBloggers) February 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I think they fart in the younger classes as well. Only not so joyfully.

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18 Nancy Wurtzel February 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Ha! Yes, that it true…but it is almost always the guys!! Thank you for reading and for commenting…

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19 Ginger Kay February 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm

That sounds like a fun class, even to a non-joiner, non-exerciser like me.

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20 Nadine Feldman February 27, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I love it! I stay away from those yoga classes that take the Western no pain-no gain approach. For a few years I taught yoga at the corporation where I had my day job, and the hardest thing to teach my students was to be gentle with and respectful of their bodies. I also had to coax them to laugh and enjoy the journey. I believe yoga should be joyful and delicious…sounds like your senior friends have the right idea!

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21 Nancy Wurtzel February 27, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Hey Nadine, yes those seniors do love to laugh! Thanks for the comment — as always!

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22 Karen D. Austin February 27, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I’ve been practicing yoga for 9 years, but I am no where near “done” learning about yoga and about my mind-body connection. What a great class environment you’ve found. Ohm shanti ohm!

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23 Nancy Wurtzel February 27, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Namaste!

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24 Lynne Spreen February 27, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I LOVE this! Your experience mirrors everything I’ve ever experienced with seniors. We are trained to expect them to be stupid and incompetent, so when we find out the truth – that so many are vibrant, wise, and have wonderful black humor about the sometimes-horrid realities of life – it’s such a delight. And a relief. What if we’ve got them wrong? What if we’re going to be cool like that someday?

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25 Nancy Wurtzel February 27, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Oh, I do hope I am a cool senior!

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