Yoga? Can old dogs learn new tricks?

by Wynne Hayes

In my youth (as in my 40s) when anyone suggested trying yoga, I politely answered with “I am a gym junkie. I will try it when I get older.” (Translation: “When pigs fly. Yoga is for wimps.”). Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I started yoga four years ago at 53. Had I understood the physical and mindful benefits of yoga, I would have started this journey much earlier. No regrets, though - better late than never.  
So, what about yoga surprised me?

  • Don’t let it fool you. Yoga is indeed physically challenging. It can whip your derriere! Holding a pose or going through a flow involves muscle discipline that you don’t experience with reps in a gym setting, no matter how heavy the weight you are using. It was a humbling experience to learn how strong many older yoga practitioners are. (Wynne is holding a pose above, right, at the 2018 Yoga in the Park event.)

  • I have learned to breathe. Sounds silly right? I was surprised at how often I held my breath. Next time you are focused on something, check to see if you are holding your breath - chances are “yes.” Learning to breathe correctly and deeply has helped improve my physical stamina and ability to work through chaotic situations.  

  • Proper alignment, flexibility, and balance are not just for “old people.” While focusing on all three has benefits as you age, focusing on these at an early age helps prevent injury. I really wish I had learned this earlier.

  • Mindfulness is a broad term. For me, yoga has helped me become more patient and more tolerant of what I consider day-to-day frustrations. Why get angry or frustrated at events you can’t control? So what if someone cuts you off in traffic? Isn’t it more important to ease up to avoid an accident? Yes, it has helped me put things in perspective. (Oh, did I share that I have a Type A personality?)

The long and short of it is, whether it is yoga or anything else…you’ll never know until you give it a try…and it is never too late or too early to start.

Samira Shuruk