Late bloomers in yoga are the Grey Warriors

A week ago, I had a phone call from a woman who I want to describe as a ‘grey warrior’. She was ringing me to see if she could book in to my general class to do yoga for the first time in her life.

I call the students who put aside their fears and considerations and come to yoga as 60, 70 and 80 year olds ‘grey warriors’. They have at last made the time and skewed up their courage to do something they’ve never done before.

This particular woman said: ‘I’m going into my 80th year and I want to take on an activity that is going to be an adventure.’ Music to a yoga teacher’s ears!

Apart from the bravery required, the problem with doing yoga as a senior is that there are likely to be physical imbalances or medical conditions with which to contend. My new lady, for instance, has osteoporosis and related stooped posture. Fortunately, there are remedial yoga routines and props to ease her back tension and strengthen her spine. 

What’s great about yoga is that it can be done at any age. Even those who have not done much in the way of exercise can start at their own level of fitness and progress safely at their own pace.

My adventuresome grey warrior was quite concerned that she would be sore from the effort she put into her first class. I checked in on her the next day and it was true that she was a bit sore. But, it was just that sort of muscle ache that equates with putting good work in. She also reported that she was more aware of her posture after the class.

There’s an American yogini, Lilias Folan, a teacher/practitioner of 40 plus years who also qualifies as a grey warrior in my book. She was diagnosed in 2012 with breast cancer and decided to see the disease as her teacher. What could she learn from the cancer and treatment? And, how could they help her evolve in her spiritual development?

Fortunately she is still with us. She has written:

Understanding my life in the framework of the seasons allows me to see the value in each phase. As we get older, it can be easy to give in to hopelessness as we finally recognise our mortality. But when we understand that our afternoon and sunset years have a value and a purpose all their own, we gain a new appreciation for these years. Suddenly we desire to live them for all they’re worth.