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Too Old and Banged up for Yoga?

Renee's philosophy for her studio, Exhale, is that every body is capable of doing yoga. She's so right! I'm 74, I've had hip surgery on left and right sides, and I love doing yoga.

But didn't the orthopedist tell you not to twist your hips out in certain positions? Yes, of course. Whatever physical difficulties you might have, you need to be careful. You need to warn any new yoga teacher you might try at the studio. They will help, but you are the first to know when you go too far. Listen for that.

I was told to do only linear movement like walking, tennis, and biking. I was scared to open my hips up, especially in Yin, and I was right to be scared. You have to go easy, really feel for what's getting uncomfortable, and I have never been the kind of person to do this. I'm competitive and impulsive, so pushing is a way of life. I'm a Northerner, raised by Puritan stock. But I learned to ease into positions and back off when I'm approaching discomfort. As far as Yin is concerned, despite my love for it, I am limited in this class. Opening my hips that way is not an option.

Once I got out of the second surgery, this time on the right hip, I started going to chair yoga. I shuddered to think about it--that's for old people, right? I found myself with a group of people who, like me, needed to take it easy, build flexibility without going too far. I learned to concentrate on breathing techniques to relax. I had to take the elevator to get up to class, and I found a supportive group in which I was the one who probably needed the most help! By the end of my time there, I was able to get back up and down off the floor for Shivasana. That was a big deal!

I moved on to floor and standing yoga from there, but I've never been able to stop paying attention to my body, Isn't that what yoga is all about? Our egos are our worst enemy, and I'll always be an old lady with a snarly attitude, but yoga has helped me accept myself nonetheless. So don't be scared, whatever your physical issues. Start small. Be the worst (in your opinion) in class, and watch how everybody else supports and cares about you. You will feel the energy of your life start roaring back.

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