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Judith's Yoga Journey

At what age yoga?

"After our retirement, I walked the beach most days. I loved it, but at 76 I was finding it harder, the sand, the inclines etc. When I told my doctor, she simply said, 'Try yoga'. I was shocked. I had this concept of yoga that was so small and somehow, I had been taught it was anti- Christian.

I rang the Wellness Centre in Wollongong and was invited to come and try a class. I am now nearly 83 and I am still attending. It has been one of my life's preserving and enabling gifts.
Like many disciplines in life, it has taken commitment and desire for this practice to benefit and enrich my life. I enjoy the company which gives its own benefit of group dynamics that one could never benefit from a video or doing it solo or just whenever.

How do I feel its benefits? After my first visit when I arrived home, as I ascended the stairs to my bedroom, I felt I was stepping into a space above the actual step. I was walking on new ground. I had a spring, a new platform. In time it gave me balance which I was quickly losing, it made me aware of my poor posture and I could bend down to my kitchen cupboards. I felt I was learning how to hold on to the things that age was slowly taking from me. My chin jutted out in nearly every class, and I was told, 'Judith put your chin in". I am still being told that, correcting my head position and alignment.

After covid we did mat yoga, restorative yoga which is so different and suited my age needs. It was learning how to breathe (which has taken me 5 years to learn), stretching, standing and balance. I was slowly learning it is not as far or as fast I went but finding the rhythm to life. Slower and smaller was sometimes more effective, I like it to kneading bread, working every part slowly and with intention. I have learned to put aside judgement and competition which has freed up other areas of my life. I was on my own journey (that was also literally, as the oldest in the class). I found acceptance and encouragement from other members. I always wish I had found it at the age of some these beautiful younger women. I would have had more life skills.

Over this past year I ventured into Reformer Pilates, it is harder but has different benefits. Recently I lost my husband through Parkinson's which was a sad journey, but yoga has given me courage and strength to face these painful changes in my life, together my faith in God. These became my intentions for the class. After his death it helped me deal with deep sorrow. At first, I could not do deep breathing, but Elizabeth understood. She had lost her father the same way. She would simply say, 'You are doing so well Judith'. One day I found myself breathing with great grunts and I realized I was releasing my deep sorrow and then there was calm and easier breathing. Recently I visited a specialist, and he was amazed at my fitness and attitude to life. I am so grateful, and I am still as keen as the first day I visited the centre. I have an added gratitude to Elizabeth who leads us into a different place each week with her life's experience, continual study and commitment to this practice. We are all so blessed to have her and each other as we navigate and sail our little boats through life.

This practice will give you back as much as your commitment and confidence in the person leading you knows the way. There is a new and acceptable awareness of yoga and pilates, and it is worth investigating. If you are interested look for an accredited person not just a pop-up, look-good salon. Not the glamourous but the genuine because you are entrusting your body to their instructions. If you find the right place you will find a life- restoring, preserving and enabling gift marked out for you. Yoga will work for you from your thinking to your toes, your breathing, your spine (back pain) to playing with your toes and feet and maybe preventing stiffening of your feet or Plantar fasciitis. Pilates will work on your basket, your pelvic floor, arm and leg strength, alignment, shoulders and of course breathing, which is the key to both practices. It is holistic, well-being found the best you can for
whatever age. I am still learning but I like to call it, Defying Old age!"

Judith Barrett.
29th May 2024