Beginning Yoga as a “Senior”
I am a 65 year old and didn’t start practicing yoga until my early 50s to see if it would help me deal with the stress of a very demanding legal career. I practiced criminal law as a Crown Attorney in Toronto for 25 years. Before becoming a lawyer I got my MSW and practiced Social Work also in Toronto for 5 years. I am now retired and yoga is a very important part of my life. It helps me deal with the different challenges of being retired, like who am I now? Why am I here? What can I still contribute? What is the meaning of my life now? You know all those simple questions that still need to be pondered.
Taking a Teacher Training instead of a retreat
About 4 years after I started practicing, the studio had moved to the Uptown location (Toronto, Ontario) and I was loving my practice. I was working full time then and had to really work hard at fitting it in to my schedule but the 6:30 am morning classes were my salvation. I often say introducing yoga into my life saved my life. I had a very stressful, high profile, demanding career and yoga was the only thing that helped me deal with the stress and anxiety. In the beginning it was all about the poses and using my body and now, many years later, it is all about the emotional and mental discipline and the meditative part of yoga. I went from dancers pose being my favourite to savasana.
So about 4 or 5 years into my practice I heard people talking about the teacher training in Moksha Yoga. Then I heard Ted Grand and Jess Robertson were doing a training in India. And I decided that I wanted to go. I did not want to teach I just wanted to deepen my personal practice and learn more about this yoga I loved. I had a full time job so I didn’t want to teach I just wanted to learn and I thought what better place to learn yoga then in India, the motherland of yoga. I thought this is a chance to do something I love in a place I had always wanted to go with a group of like-minded people. I didn’t know any students who were going but Ted said I was welcome to join them so I was in.
The month in India doing the training is still one of my favourite travel learning experiences and I have had many. I like learning and I like traveling so it was an amazing combination. I met people I would have never met otherwise and some of those people are still in my life. I didn’t go with the intention of teaching, and I never changed that intention. I did what I wanted and that was to deepen my practice. It was a major turning point in my practice. It changed my appreciation of yoga. I saw the complexity and the layers which I never would have seen had I just continued practicing.
When I came back from the training I didn’t do the things required to be a teacher. I was back into my full time job. The training had served its purpose, which was to take me and my practice to a different level. I am now retired and people ask me all the time if I am interested in teaching and I always say “No.” I had a job and I don’t want my yoga practice to be my job. I love being an ambassador for yoga and I love encouraging people to try yoga but I don’t want it to be an obligation. I love my teachers and I really appreciate their diligence and commitment, especially the ones who take their teaching seriously and continue to learn so they can share that with me but I don’t need to be one of them.
I have nothing against yoga retreats in fact I have done a number of them with teachers from my studio. But they have a different focus. They are not as demanding and challenging. Like anything else you pretty much get what you put in. The personal goals are different. And the people around you have different goals. In a yoga teacher training setting you are with people who take this seriously. It is like any other professional training. So if you want to relax and deepen your practice on your own terms then go to a retreat. If you want to dig deep into yourself and the practice of yoga while being surrounded by supportive, friendly, non- judgmental people, then training is the way to go. I am so glad I took the training when I did. It really did make me look at things from a totally different perspective. I have returned from retreats and after a month or less the effects have worn off.
Every time I take a yoga class I reignite the things I learned during the yoga teacher training. I listen to the teachers differently. I listen to my body differently because I learned what was going on in my body. The effects still linger.
I took my training in 2007 and this is now 2015. I was looking for something to help me deal with life and I found it. I practice every day. I read a lot. I want to continue learning about yoga and the philosophy behind it. I am even thinking of going to Nepal to visit Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha. The learning and the adventure continues.