When I turned 50, a lifetime of sloth and inertia behind me, I reckoned it was high time I started doing a bit of exercise before everything seized up. I thought to myself: what do older women do for exercise? I know – yoga! (Though in my neighbourhood I see many more youngies than oldies practising the art.)
I joined a beginners’ class, and attended it most weeks for about three years. During that time I went on two yoga holidays; I started to realise I was doing a bit of yoga most days and consequently enjoying the benefits, including greater flexibility, stronger legs, better posture and improved balance. When my pal Alison suggested I train to teach, I thought, why not?
The process, however, was no doddle – 18 months of hard graft, both physically and academically (the anatomy I found particularly tough), but four years ago, aged 61, I was thrilled to pass the final exam and become a fully-fledged yoga teacher!
When asked what type of yoga I teach, I have to fight off the urge to reply ‘mongrel yoga’. Essentially, though, that’s how I was taught: to be open to many different styles and approaches and, most importantly, to teach with safety and accessibility in mind. That is, to make sure students don’t injure themselves and that, no matter how stiff, overweight, old, unfit or inexperienced the student, a teacher should aim to have every person leaving the end of the session feeling valid, optimistic, uplifted and energised.
Pre-Covid, I much preferred to teach individuals or very small groups at home than large classes in a studio: that way, you can check people’s alignment and help students get into the correct pose, or modifications of the pose if people are new and a bit stiff, or have a long-term health condition.
My own teacher said something to me a few years back, and it really stuck: ‘Practise yoga today so you can practise yoga tomorrow.’ Simple as that. I’m committed to practicing yoga daily for the rest of my life.