Opinion: Dear Susi Q suggests yoga for the not-so-youthful!

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By Lynette Brasfield

Pretzels. I love to eat them, but I’m not too good at turning myself into one. So yoga has always been a bit of a stretch for me (pun intended). Nor am I Buddhist or fond of what’s commonly known as “woo-woo.” Give me straight talk anytime.

Yet, when I finally started practicing yoga, I found I enjoyed the gentle ambience in the studio, so different from the sweaty competitiveness of a gym.

(Oh, that’s another thing I love about yoga, that it’s called yoga practice – takes all the pressure off those of us who tend to be goal-oriented strivers – we’re eternally practicing, perfection happily unattainable.)

More serious practitioners recognize yoga as a spiritual and ascetic discipline involving a variety of breathing techniques, meditation and the adoption of specific bodily postures to achieve a sense of unity with the universe.

But for us oldies, it’s a lot less complicated. Yoga simply keeps us limber and helps with our balance. Instructors talk you through every pose and offer options for the less lithe.

When I first started practicing, I worried my lack of coordination would be a problem. Well, it is, and it isn’t. Bottom line – and I use the words bottom line advisedly – no one cares. People are worrying about their own poses, not yours.

But I get the hesitation. After all, I am cursed with legs and arms and eyes and ears that each march to the beat of a different drum. I tend to hear instructions on a kind of ten-second delay. I sometimes mistake my left side for my right and vice versa. I tremble, I wobble, I flap my hands.

Yet, I have become more comfortable with yoga poses. I can do plough, but not wheel. Pigeon I love, but not peacock. I’ve learned the difference between cobra and upward facing dog. This should be useful also if I find myself in a jungle.

I can now balance on one foot – called “tree pose” – for all of 10 seconds. I’ve been practicing alone at home. At least then, when I fall, no one hears me scream. (Or do they?)

If you prefer not to go to a traditional studio, Susi Q offers standing yoga. In that class, you don’t have to get up and down from your mat, an action which, for the less limber, might result in a chorus of groans audible all the way up Park Avenue.

Oh, and by the way, you’ll love Shavasana, the final pose of each class. This is what you do: You lie on your back with arms and legs akimbo. You close your eyes. You breathe.

It’s great. Try it at home sometime!

The Susi Q regularly offers Wayne’s Standing Yoga and other enjoyable exercise classes at its center, 380 Third Street. For more information on Living It Up and meeting the challenges that can come with time, visit www.thesusiq.org. Or email [email protected] if you have a question you’d like to ask her or a suggestion about ways to thrive as an older adult.

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