By Dawn Zoll RYT 200
How many brand new things do you try after the age of 45?
Especially something physical? Typically, once in our 40’s, life has become fairly routine, more settled, less “exotic”. Or maybe that was just me!
For the record…I’m not a big risk taker.
I had always been overly concerned about what other people think about me and I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist (still working on this one!)
So what on earth possessed me to try something totally new, all by myself and out of my comfort zone? I have NO earthly idea! Call it the season of life, a momentary “lapse of judgement”, or the Universe giving me a little nudge. But here I was, 48 years old, walking into a yoga studio for the very first time and not knowing a single soul. Not only was it my first time into a yoga studio, it was my first experience with any kind of yoga, period. Not even a home VHS (yes, I am THAT old) or DVD. Oh, I had done my share of Jane Fonda workout videos (cue the tights and leg warmers), but that was different – it was in the privacy of my home, it was pretty easy and I was young, full of energy and unhindered by any injuries or just aging body parts.
My biggest worry before my first yoga class was….
I was worried about “looking silly” in these odd poses. But I told myself that everyone in the class would look just as “silly” as me because we were ALL doing these odd poses. I just made up my mind to “go with it”. Literally not worry about how I might look to anyone else – we were all in the same boat. I just decided to embrace whatever came at me that first class. Have you ever found yourself in that situation? Deciding, in a rare moment (abandoning all inhibitions), to just go with it? To set aside your “usual” way of thinking? Take a leap of faith and see what happens? It’s actually pretty liberating!
So, what happened when I took my first yoga class?
Was it BOOM! EUREKA! I’VE FOUND THE MOTHERSHIP???
Or was it humiliating, devastating and embarrassing?
Ha, it was neither! But I was hooked! For the first time in my life, I actually looked forward to exercising and I suspected that I might actually be able to commit to this yoga thing long term. I was intrigued and I started dipping my toes in the water, so to speak. I had read that yoga was more than just “exercising”, but a mindset. A linking of body, mind and spirit. I came back the next week. And the week after that. And so on…
Did I mention that I was 48 years old when I took my first yoga class?
Now in the grand scheme of things I know 48 isn’t old – especially as I get closer to that 6-0 number! But it IS intimidating to start something brand new that is physical, possibly surrounded by much younger and more flexible people! But as I have learned – we don’t have to BE flexible to do yoga, we do yoga to GET flexible! But 48 or 28, muscles have memory! And muscles are smart and adaptive! And as I fell into the rhythm of those vinyasa flow classes, I noticed my body moving in new and exciting ways. Those first few classes, even child’s pose was uncomfortable! Plank? Forget it – I had noodles for arms! Down dog? Are you kidding? Tight hamstrings, weak shoulders, weak arms! But something kept me coming back. Every class, I noticed a change! I was slowly getting stronger. My muscles were sore, but in a good way! I felt like I was accomplishing something measurable.
The Best thing about my new yoga journey was…
The coolest thing about this new adventure I was embarking on was the community of like-minded people that I was surrounded with. I realized that age was really just a number and no one cares what that number is! No one was watching and comparing. I learned to honor my body and listen to what it was telling me. I was given “permission” to back off, modify or skip anything that didn’t serve my particular body. This was especially refreshing since I had spent years putting everyone else’s needs ahead of my own. “Back off” was not in my vocabulary!
What a liberating concept – do what feels good for YOU!
(And yes, this makes me feel good!)
Honestly, I discovered that being 45+ was a big advantage. As they say, with age comes wisdom (well, often but not always, lol) but I felt;
The Benefits of Starting Yoga at a “More experienced” age
1) I had a fair amount of experience at pacing myself in a way to not get injured.
2) I didn’t feel like I needed to prove anything to anyone – this was MY journey!
3) I had plenty of life experiences behind me to recognize “big” STUFF and “little” STUFF. Most everything is little stuff – so I could embrace my newness and appreciate my learning curve instead of being embarrassed or apologetic.
4) I had a broader life perspective, thus celebrating small sweet “victories” like sticking a balance pose, or holding a crow for a couple of seconds were worth celebrating!
Here I am, almost 10 years later, still on my personal yoga journey. I have discovered yoga for me was so much more than exercise. It is constantly evolving. It has raised my self confidence, my awareness, my compassion. It makes me a better human. And to think that I might have missed out on this rich experience because of fear! If you’ve been hesitant to try yoga, no matter what your age, go ahead and throw caution to the wind! Leave any inhibitions behind! Embrace uncertainty! I guarantee that the rewards are well worth it!
If you think you are too old to start something new or to try yoga, I hope I was able to persuade you otherwise. It doesn’t take much to get started, some comfy clothes, they don’t even have to be name brand, and a yoga mat, with maybe a little water and just enough courage to take the first step inside the studio. Once you’re there, the yoga will take care of the rest.
Starting this new journey has been an amazing, life changing experience and I want to encourage you that although it may be outside your comfort zone today, I promise after your first class, it will be something that becomes your comfort zone. Thrive Yoga and Wellness was key in making this leap so successful for me. From the moment I stepped into the studio (formerly Yoga East) I felt welcomed, safe, encouraged and most importantly empowered. You can have those same feelings and experience the same benefits! If you’re in the Chattanooga, TN area, definitely check out Jennifer Dixon and her amazing team. If you look at the special events page, you may even see me teaching modules in the Thrive 200 hr teacher training program. That’s because I fell in love with it so much that I decided to become a teacher! (which, I have no doubt, you will do as well.)
Even if you’re not in Chattanooga, Thrive Yoga and Wellness has an online program that gives you the unique and embracing Thrive Community, in a virtual form with yoga classes, yoga inspired fitness classes, tutorials and live, interactive yoga sessions that you can do from the comfort of your home! Thrive Online is my favorite way to stay connected to Thrive when I’m not in town. It’s a blessing and I know you’ll think so too.