A Yoga Challenge

Eileen Hopkins (Gramma Jamma)
Grandma’s Point of View

My granddaughter shared one of the objectives in her school this year is to participate in 20 hours of aerobic exercise using different sports and activities. She has decided to include swimming so far. I suggested Zumba would be fun and we could do it together. I got “the face”. You know, that one – “thanks Grandma but really – that is not cool” in her eyes and a little smile/grimace on her lips. Of course, at twelve, she is bouncing between the little girl wanting to spend time with me to the almost teenager who just can’t understand why anyone would listen to Janis Joplin – ever! Now I might actually be able to discuss that one choice with her and even agree to some of her points, but, in the end, there is one very real barrier standing in the way – multiple generation gaps!

I have been on an adventure lately to fulfill my own assignment regarding exercise and that void is starting to look like a thesis in senior activities! I started out with a 100-Day walking challenge – it was free and not only did it meet my physical needs it lifted my spirit and improved my mood. With over 60 days behind me, I was up for something new and indoors, thank you very much! You have read about my Zumba experience and my Spin class journey. Last week I added another new experience to my repertoire – Hatha Yoga.

I have never participated in any kind of yoga. I have heard people talk about Hatha and Hot Yoga, poses and meditation and relaxation – but what really happens behind the yoga room door from the time the quiet music begins until the bells tinkle at the end? Not wanting to be a total fool, I googled “What to Wear for Yoga” to be sure I showed up in respectable attire. That’s important, right? I had to figure out what to put on my feet, what length of leggings to buy (or did I go with yoga pants?) and what kind of top would cover the grandmotherly curves enough without looking too grandmotherly, if you get my drift.

Armed with my new outfit in rather conservative black and white and my new yoga mat under my arm, I headed to the local fitness centre for another new experience. Like a good doobie, I walked all the way down to the official, card scanning entrance in the lower levels of the complex and then waited in line to ask where the yoga class would be conducted. The eyes and eyebrows of the sweet young receptionist both went up along with a smile that is beginning to become familiar – that “sweet senior lady – sure I can help you – do you want me to walk you to class” look I have been running into frequently of late. She pointed behind me, up the ramp and told me I would need to re-trace my footsteps and go to child minding. I did not know that the “child minding” on the schedule was a place – silly me! I found my room, rolled out my mat, and sat down to wait for my hour of gentle movement and meditation.

The lovely master was on time – I appreciate that in an instructor – and in charge – which I appreciate even more – as she sweetly reminded some younger women to gently press their lips together as the class began. I will have to use that for my next staff meeting! The poses started out slowly with emphasis on the breathing. Nothing I wasn’t expecting. As we continued to work on each pose, move fluidly from one to the other (that needs much work!), I started to radiate heat. There were beads of sweat on my upper lip, perspiration shining on my forehead, feet feeling a little slippery on my new mauve mat – all this from slow, methodical movement!

The poses became more demanding and we frequently were on all fours with our derrieres in the air. Pain was building in my knees and shooting out of my shoulders. I imagined a super heroe with rockets flaming from her shoulder caps, grey hair streaming behind her as she sped from mat to table to shelf! I continued to move and put great effort into pushing my feet like roots into the ground or reaching my arms to the sun like a mountain. My legs and arms pointed in so many directions I was not sure anymore if I was on the mountain top or gently curled into the child pose on the ground – which was anything but gentle for my less than child-like knees!.

I discovered my reasons for being there – joint and muscle stiffness, lack of grace, lack of balance – were definitely my areas of need. I found muscles in places that were a mystery and used some muscles that had not been put into play since I was a young mom balancing a toddler on one hip while dragging a bike, doll, doll stroller and groceries home from the store. I also discovered I did not know how to breathe. What I did do well was lay still – body and mind – after 45 minutes of practicing.

So, gone are my misconceptions of soft, gentle, easy yoga. It is a workout that includes all muscles in your body. You will be stiff and sore – as if you had done 45 minutes of aerobics. And, the practice of yoga – well, it will take a lot of practice. Behind my closed office door, I assume my warrior pose in preparation for the next staff meeting – if only my grandchildren could see me now! OHHHHHHHMMMMMM!

 This blog posting is not a form of psychological counselling, advice, therapy, or assessment and should not be used as such by any individual. This blog posting is provided only as an article intended to encourage thought and discourse. For specific psychology related services, please contact an appropriate healthcare provider.