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Reflections July 2012

Moving On

Moving on . . . to Yoga Class

By Patsy Pipkin

To call us beginners in anything sounds absurd; yet, here we are – all signed up and raring to go. It's "Beginning" yoga. Eight past-middle-aged women and a couple of balding husbands, who came merely to satisfy their wives, smile bravely as we size each other up.

Picture this – if you can. Call it a yoga class, if you will. It's not a group of lean and limber long-haired beauties gracefully bending to the chant of winsome music. This class is a bunch of short, fat, seniors who have never been there and never even tried to do that before. We touch our toes much easier from the “lotus” position than by trying to bend over our bellies.

To call us beginners in anything sounds absurd; yet, here we are – all signed up and raring to go. It's "Beginning" yoga. Eight past-middle-aged women and a couple of balding husbands, who came merely to satisfy their wives, smile bravely as we size each other up.

In our sporty grey T-shirts imprinted with red letters, declaring us “HEALTH CORP MEMBERS” and making us eligible to try this new class, free to members, we stood ready to get our money's worth.

The slim, trim instructor smiled politely when he saw who had showed up for a demonstration of his class called “Yoga One For Beginners.” Then, quickly, our exercise guru told us to get two mats from the stack in the corner and place them end to end on the shiny hardwood floor, facing the mirrored wall, and to take off our shoes.

I thought I saw him hide a grin as he turned to put his music in the boom box, but I’ll not say for sure.

He might not be up to this, but we of the silver-haired generation, are willing to give anything a try – once. Why not yoga? We discussed how it appears unbelievably hard, but very graceful, when we watch it on television. Besides, we “beginners” are old hands at proving old dogs can too learn new tricks.

"First I'm going to teach you how to breath," says, the smooth-talking instructor. "Put your hands together across your abdomen and take a deep breath through your nose. Now, move your hands together up across your chest and breathe even deeper, hold it! Now — move your hands to your throat and breath even deeper. And now let your breath out. No! No! Don’t make a noise! Just let it out softly through your nose. Control your breathing."

I look in the mirror. We’re all still standing. Nobody passed out from holding their breath. After several more deep breaths, the instructor said, "That was the warm-up phase. Now, on to some serious stretching. We’re going to warm up our insides."

I don’t know about the others, but my innards were already getting so warm I wished he would turn on the ceiling fans.

He dimmed the lights and continued, rather softly, "Sit down on your mat. Stretch high. Bend to the left. Then to the right. Now to the middle straight out in front. Put your hands on the floor. Mine wouldn’t reach. I can’t touch the floor like that! I’d have to squat. I faked it – their eyes were supposed to be closed anyway. Nobody saw that I didn’t touch the floor.

“Now stand up and we’ll begin the work phase," said the determined instructor as he proceeded to show us “warrior” poses. We posed for several minutes, but instead of acting like real warriors we were rather subdued. Some were really good at the “mountain,” the “dog,” and the “cat,” but when he asked us to stand on one foot with our hands in a prayer-like position and move our other foot up our leg and out behind, we all jumped around quite a bit. It wasn’t a very pretty pose at all, and I don’t even remember its name.

My favorite part came next. Relaxation! Now that’s where I excelled. The music slowed, my mind drifted, and my whole body responded to perfection when called to rest.

All at once it was over. An entire hour had passed. The feeling of exuberance that accompanies the pleasure of accomplishment was tremendous. One of those women said she thought she’d go shopping. She just knew that she’d already dropped a dress size! Some of us just looked in that mirror and decided – Nah. Not yet.

But I saw hope in the mirror.


Patsy Pipkin writes from her home in Searcy, Arkansas
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