April 20, 2022
Recently, I was talking with Chris Martin, a Source Yoga student who regularly attends our Gentle Yoga classes and sometimes modifies poses with a chair. Chris has been attending yoga classes at Source Yoga for more than a decade and a half and has seen her yoga practice shift and change as her body has shifted and changed. When she began to take classes at Source, she took many of our active classes. Living with a chronic illness has changed what she is physically able to do in her asana practice, but she has always found a home at Source. Here are a few of her words about practicing with us over time:
“I have been with Source Yoga since 2006; 16 years. I have always appreciated the quality instructors, their instruction as well as the one-on-one guidance. Now I am almost 70. Source Yoga has been with me through the thick and thin of aging and the progression of my chronic illnesses. There has always been a class that met my physical and spiritual needs.”
It feels deeply important to me to have classes available that meet the different needs of different students in different ages and stages. Some love the energy, strength building, and physical challenge in a mindful way they get from our Align & Flow classes, others prefer the slower pace that our Level 1 and other gentler classes bring. Some students love the variety and float between different types of classes. Recently, we have added Chair Yoga both in studio and online as an option to encourage the strength, mobility, focus, and meditative benefits of yoga practice to those that need or want the support of a chair.
In May, our wonderful teacher Bonnie Loghry will be offering a series for those experiencing chronic pain – Chronic Pain and Yoga: Finding Compassion for What Is. We are excited to bring this offering to our community. I’ve known many people who deal ongoingly with pain, and I know from personal experience that attentive yoga and meditative practices can help us mindfully navigate our relationship with pain or discomfort. Another valuable offering as we look at how to adapt Asana Alignment to our unique bodies is Asana Alignment Refresher – an upcoming workshop with Megan (Holt) Tuche. This exploration is not about finding “perfect” alignment in poses, but to find alignment that is adaptable to you.
The needs of my yoga practice have changed dramatically as I have aged and changed, gone through pregnancy, childbirth, rehabilitating an injury, and finding different interests and explorations within yoga and mindfulness practice. As I entered my 40s, my practice began to look like more strength and stabilizing in asana rather than finding the extremes of my mobility. There was a process of letting go of the “wow” poses I did in my 20s and 30s, and a shift in my practice exploration to more meditation, less asana.
As I am now in my “later” 40s – closer to 50, I frequently use props to adapt postures. I often modify or change a pose to suit my body’s needs, sometimes I skip out on some things all together. If I need or decide I want to sit in a chair one day for meditation or yoga practice, I feel comfortable doing so. As a side note, my body feels stronger than it did when I was 25 and 30, and I have less pain.
Continuing to move our bodies in whatever way we can is so essential to aging and maintaining physical and mental well-being. I know so many students in their 60s, 70s, and 80s that are incredibly active, strong and flexible. And — the belief that we should idealize doing the things we were doing in our younger years is misguided. Frankly, it’s the messaging of a consumer driven and youth obsessed culture, yes, even – or especially – the “wellness” culture. These cultural beliefs harm us – all of us, no matter our age or body type or physical ability.
If we are lucky to live a long time, our bodies change. This is true for all of us. We all will at some point most likely experience injury, illness, pain, or some degree of physical limitation. It’s a part of being in a human body. It doesn’t mean that we can’t stay active, that we can’t maintain strength, mobility, and physical resilience, but can we practice accepting change, even in our bodies. This body is the one we have from the moment we are born until the moment we die. It would serve us well to care for it with kindness and compassion.
Yoga practice can support us in creating a new, more open relationship with the way things are. And what a gift that we can age, change, grow, adapt, and find compassion for what is, surrounded by a supportive community.
See you on the mat (or chair)!
Erin Joosse | she/her
Source Yoga | studio director
Join us in practice – view our weekly class schedule here. We offer a full schedule of in-person and online classes that are accessible for all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities.
- In-studio class sizes are limited, and pre-registration is required.
- If unable to attend in person, please cancel your registration to allow a waitlisted student to attend!
- Masks are recommended, but not required for studio classes.
- We thank you for your kindness, support, and graciousness during this time.