We'll Have Fun, Fun, Fun
Yoga teachers who work with seniors say dropouts are uncommon, and not just because their students feel better. The classes themselves are a hoot. "We have so much fun in my older classes," Francina says. "They're 10 times more fun than the younger classes. Part of that is because you've learned to laugh at yourself. You've gone through the drama of life. There is more perspective."
Cappy teaches her classes in a circle to emphasize the sense of community. "Many seniors live alone—they've lost a partner or spouse—so the whole coming together is an important part that is not so much a part of a traditional yoga class." Westervelt says she finds an energy and power of being with other people on the same wavelength. "There's a community who have shared ideas of what yoga means and a sort of peaceful, positive kind of way of looking at your life," she says.
In the end, what makes for a meaningful, enduring yoga practice, one that will sustain you year in and year out, doesn't change over the decades. It's about self-acceptance, seeing yourself as ageless and timeless. "Yoga has taken all the nasty things they attribute to aging and thrown them out the door," Bartholomew says. "When my grandson calls me 'Paw Paw,' it doesn't have a negative connotation. Yoga has given me measurable physical wellness and has done away with that thought that I'm an 'old' man."
Johnson couldn't agree more. "My yoga practice has made me forget my age. One woman said to me, 'You're bouncing around here like a 20-year-old,'" she says. "It's very clear to me that I would age differently and more unpleasantly if I wasn't consciously aware by doing yoga."
Lorie A. Parch is a writer in Scottsdale, Arizona.!--page-->