It Gets Better, Seriously

There is a young-ish yoga teacher in my neck of the woods who posted recently on her media that she just doesn’t believe that it gets better. Really.

I have news for her: She’s wrong.

While it’s true that of my body parts some have been seriously compromised by age and gravity, the most important, my heart, is much stronger. In fact, I feel downright badass.

And I am not alone. I am joined on the mat every week by the largest growing group in my area of yogis, the over 50 crowd. We are the Wisdom Warriors ™ named after the trademarked class created by my teacher, Desiree Rumbaugh.

When it seems these days that everyone is a yoga teacher and there are more studios than Starbucks, I am often asked why would I offer a class that is designed to exclude students rather than attract more mats? The answer is simple: I offer what I wanted to see in yoga. And apparently, I am not alone. I’ve even had to turn a few away.

From California to Colorado, the Wisdom Warriors classes are thriving. While we may be older, and some of us move a bit slower, do not, and I mean it, DO NOT count us out.

“Endurance is not a young person’s game,” said Diana Nyad, the Olympic swimmer. “You have a body that’s almost as strong, but you have a much better mind.” If there is one thing that getting older teaches us, it is how to endure.

Here are some additional reasons why the Wisdom Warriors rock:

  • Resilience. Nobody knows resilience like somebody who has been through it all. This is where we shine. We have lived it, we have learned from it and now we can enjoy it.
  • Low expectations! There is no way on God’s Green Earth that I believe I will have as strong a practice as a young man in his twenties. Do you think I would win a yoga competition? Only if it’s for Savasana. While a younger yogi is probably looking to accomplish a HUPA (Head Up yo’Asana pose), my goal is that I don’t break a hip. Therefore, when I get just one inch closer to my desired pose I am ecstatic.
  • Steadfastness. Hello, I am still here! That’s my motto. I am still here and every day that I’m still here I can try again, and again and again. And eventually, I surprise myself and pop my foot behind my head or balance on one hand in handstand. I am patient for the pose.
  • Gratitude. We are so grateful! Every day on the mat is another chance to be who we were meant to be. Another day is a chance to greet possibility with hope in our heart.

For all these reasons and more, yoga is a beautiful respite for the older student.

 “Yoga is marketed to the young,” said International Yoga Teacher Christina Sell, “But the real beauty of the practice belongs to the older yogi.”

So why do we feel a need to practice in our own class? I still teach public classes for all ages, and all kinds of yogis, but the difference in the Wisdom Warriors class is community. It is a safe environment to reveal who we are, and who we were. We can reveal our new knees and hips, the wear and tear of the years on our bodies, the fears and other baggage we’ve acquired along the way.

We also understand the intense desire to not give up. We still dream of creating more in our lives. We will not settle for less! Together we stand taller and brighter in our dreams. Because unlike my younger colleague, we know it gets better.

 “We are all just walking each other home,” said Ram Dass. In the Wisdom Warriors class, we will walk each other home, and keep excellent company along the way.

 

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist and the author of the memoir “Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga.” Michelle is a Columnist for Elephant Journal and Origin Magazine and a contributor to Teachasana. She is an E-/500 RYT with Yoga Alliance and teaches in Denver, Co. You can follow her on Facebook at Michelle Marchildon, The Yogi Muse. You can find her blog and website at:

 

Website: www.YogiMuse.com

Facebook: Michelle Marchildon: The Yogi Muse

Twitter: @Michelle_Muse


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MJMitch, posted on March 12, 2013

It doesn't get better?? That's INSANE! No business teaching yoga if you believe that. I discovered yoga for the first time at 51. I was overweight and out of shape and was tantalized by a sandwich board advertising a relatively new studio near where I worked. I never had yoga on my to do list just decided to check it out based on this studio's intro offer and website. That was just shy of 2 years ago. Then: 265lbs/size 42+ waist. Now: 185lbs/size 34 waist and my new pants fit nice and loose, not "squeezed in". Yoga has totally transformed my life. I'm healthier and in better shape than I ever was in my 20's or 30s. Never were all my muscles lean and taut even when I was young and looked like I was in decent shape. Tons of older folks in my studio getting better and better every day. Shame on the person who said that.

Drakenix, posted on March 10, 2013

Great article! Last month I was in Venice FL and did “Yoga with Elen” on the beach. The class ranged from me in my 40’s to students in their 90’s. Most show up everyday rain or shine. It was quite an inspiration.

luchik77, posted on March 9, 2013

Great article! and so cool that I came across it right after my mom finished telling me about her elderly friend's husband, who is practicing yoga at a retirement community at 103 years of age!!! (yes, 103!!! :-)) My mom is almost 60, her friend is 96 - incredibly vibrant and independent woman! Apparently, her husband is also quite strong - not missing his yoga practice and really taking care of himself :-)) Here is wishing all Wisdom Warriors to meet on the mat at 103 and enjoy it to the fullest!!!

thenrys, posted on March 9, 2013

Thanks for this Michele. I am 51 (today!) and I have recently fallen in love with yoga. I am in a time in my life where working on flexibility and strength become essential for maintaining a healthy, albeit aging, body.
I certainly do not look like poetry in motion (nor do I care), but I love the way I feel.

piercearrow33, posted on March 9, 2013

@NadineF Thank you. And I echo those thoughts. By the way, I'm 55

NadineF, posted on March 9, 2013

At 54, I am as healthy and strong as ever, and yoga, I believe, is one of the main reasons. I practice at home primarily so I can listen to my body's needs and pace my practice accordingly. I would add that at our age, our yoga is less about ego and finding the perfect pose, and more about being interested in what's going on inside. I would never go back to being my younger self -- life gets better and better!

ShariR, posted on March 8, 2013

I am still smiling and loved your article!!
I often find that I put myself down and tell people not to watch my yoga practice....I have no clue what I am doing! But then magic happens. The other day after a class I was chatting with the yoga teacher and asked her why she hasn't come the last few times to 're-align' me...am I so bad I'm hopeless? lol She told me that I have really softened and she can tell that I am breathing into the poses and rooting deeper! Who knew? lolol
There's lots to be said for us Wisdom Warriors!!

pwatson5, posted on March 8, 2013

Thank you for this article. I only found Yoga a year ago at the ripe old age of 46. I feel better now than I ever have. So what if I can't do a headstand, I can do a mean downward facing dog!!!

desireerumbaugh, posted on March 8, 2013

Spread the word, we can get better as we get older. Take time for yourself and make new friends! Thanks Michelle, for helping spread the word.

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