Think you're too old to start yoga? Think again. My grandma started yesterday -- and she's 90 years old. Although she looks amazing (that's her, pictured right), my grandma has macular degeneration and glaucoma, so she can barely see. She also has degenerating discs in her back, and lately, severe arthritis, which has taken away a lot of her flexibility in the past few weeks. (Before the arthritis came on, she was actually super-flexible).
The arthritis, combined with her disc issues, make it difficult for her to walk more than a block or two without having to stop and sit for a minute. And sitting isn't a panacea either as sitting for too long can cause pain in her spine. Basically, lately, many of the often mundane tasks that all of us do each day and probably take for granted, cause her pain.
For Mother's Day, my mom and I thought it would be a good idea for my grandma to try yoga. I had experienced firsthand how yoga had helped me, so we figured it was worth a shot. Yesterday, at the ripe old age of 90, my grandmother practiced yoga for the first time, with Lisa Boudreau (pictured above left, next to my grandma), who I know from her class at Strala Yoga.
My grandma was admittedly a little nervous about her first meeting with the mat, so Lisa started slow with some very gentle, beginner yoga poses. As the hour progressed, my grandmother showed visible improvement. When they first began she went from having trouble sitting down on the floor without help -- to getting up off the mat, in sort of a reverse downward dog fashion. (Yes, I wasn't kidding about her flexibility.)
After, my grandma remarked how she felt more flexible, how she felt more strength in her legs, how her legs felt more stable (often times she feels wobbly), and how her legs felt the best they've felt in a while. Even the car ride home from Brooklyn back to Long Island didn't hurt her spine. An hour passed and she was still talking yoga to my mom! She went on to say how she feels more "confident" in her walking, how Reclining Goddess pose felt so good (though she didn't call it that), and most importantly, how she just felt better -- and how she's excited to do some of the poses she learned at home now.
All this in one hour? If my grandmother feels this much better after just one introductory yoga session, how much better will she feel after she continues her yoga practice? Or what if she got started with yoga 10 years ago, 20 years ago, or 50 years ago?
If at age 35, I feel tremendously better from returning to the yoga mat for just a few months, and now my 90-year-old grandma feels better after one hour of yoga. What can yoga do for everyone else?
What about all the young adults, people in their twenties and thirties and who already are dealing with health issues -- whether it's weight issues, injuries, or just annoying aches and pains? Jamie Oliver is trying to change America's eating habits with his Food Revolution. Is it time for a Yoga Revolution, too? I don't know. What I do know, however, is that yoga made my 90 year old grandma, whom I love dearly, feel much better -- and that makes me feel better, too.