January 27, 2015

Join Me in Being a Middle-Aged Yoga Cliché.

Liz Ward

I might die here. This is terrifying.

As I rolled out my yoga mat, carefully brushing off the cat hair that I brought with me from home, I looked around the room at the other 400 yogis with beautifully muscled backs, wearing the cutest outfits Lululemon had to offer, and all I could think was, “Who am I kidding?”

It was the first night of a three and a half day power yoga immersion with Baron Baptiste.

What happened next was the typical “Middle aged woman goes to power yoga immersion; conquers her fears; and transforms her yoga practice story”.  Although when I first arrived, I couldn’t imagine what had made me sign up for this in the first place because I never thought of myself as “that person.”

My first yoga class five years ago was a total disaster for everyone involved.

I was so bad at yoga that people next to me used to ask if I was okay. I once had a teacher introduce herself to a class and make a point to single me out by name in front of the class and tell me that she “could modify the flow for me.”

And, yet, I kept showing up.

And then one day, on a whim, I decided to sign up for a teacher training.

I had progressed from a level of complete yoga train wreck in the back of the room, to having the ability to at least blend into the class. It had been a while since anyone had to stop what they were doing to make sure I didn’t need CPR in a hot class so it made sense to me that I was ready for the next step.

Oh how I loved that training, the lovely people in it, the studio where it was held, the time to really engage in discussions about life, philosophy, and all things yoga.

But, I still never considered myself up to par with the rest of the yogis.

The minute anything smelled like an advanced pose, I was out. Clutching my back like a 70s sitcom character, I made excuses.

Because in my mind, I was still not quite one of “those yoga people.” I learned the ultimate yoga speak for chickening out, “I’m sorry headstand (or whatever advanced pose) is not in my practice.”

And yet, I started teaching and loved the little yoga community I was creating.

I started looking for a small space to hold class since I was not totally enamored with teaching at an elementary school at night and one presented itself.

In the ultimate midlife crisis, I signed the lease. Only stopping to see if I was really going to barf in the bushes outside the landlord’s house before driving away.

And so it was that June 1st, I opened Renew Yoga.

To borrow a cliché from Queen Oprah, here’s what I know for sure: yoga really is for everybody.

I have bulging discs, the kind of bad knee that lets me know when it’s raining, and yoga is what keeps me well. It is a tremendous stress reliever, has made me kinder, more patient, and just feels good.

If anyone had ever told me that at age 44, I would have gone to Colorado and done handstands and dropped into a backbend from a standing position, I would have rolled my eyes so hard you would have heard it, but those things actually happened this week.

Yoga has taken me places I never imagined that I would go and I promise it will do the same for you too.


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Author: Liz Ward

Apprentice Editor:  Bria Luu / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Author’s Own

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