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yoga for (old lady) runners

Saturday, May 05, 2012

as some of you know, i started yoga for seniors in February, at the suggestion of a friend who said that maybe i'd fall less (and be generally less of a klutz and slice my fingers less often) if i learned to be more mindful and that yoga could be good for that. the class i go to is free (for which i feel somewhat guilty although i would not have started probably if it weren't) for those 60 and older, and the class is easier.
the biggest problem so far that yoga teachers seem to be very soft-spoken ... and feel - understandably - that it is inappropriate to talk loud in yoga. so i have to wear my hearing aids, which is a little irritating in terms of moving and feedback, etc, and i still miss a lot. so i have to turn and open my eyes and look a lot. which also detracts from the experience.
i am also not very good at yoga, and i don't like not being good at things. running's different, partly because i mainly run alone and partly because i am at the point where it is intrinsically rewarding (endorphins and self-esteem and better body and gorgeous runs). besides being quite poor at relaxation (except after a glass or 2 of wine), i am pretty uncoordinated and totally unable to coordinate my breathing with instructions or poses or actions.
i think i was exaggerating when i said i felt like my ankle was breaking. although the pain was ... oh, 7/10, i'd say, for sitting back on my heels, with the top of my feet flat against the ground. apparently that is a stretch that is good for you and it is getting better and less painful.
last night i went to a (paying) class of yoga for runners, with a different teacher. i was by far the oldest person there, but could do all but one of the poses (where you are on your knees and lean back over your heels, with your elbows on the ground behind your feet ... i couldn't even imagine doing that without falling over) and did ok (except for not hearing a word of the instructions during the relaxation at the end. which was distinctly unrelaxing). but i felt good on the (short) walk home.
so what i think is i have to work harder at it a little. specifically, i need to do some homework. i have ordered a book/cd of meditations (in French), where the first several meditations apparently focus on focusing on your breathing, which i obviously need to learn to do. and i need to practice that. and i need to do some research, to get a better sense of which stretches really might be dangerous. Listening to your body is a great theory but finding the line between pain and discomfort and the one between being sensible and being wimpy is difficult for me. i'm pretty sure i have confidence in my teacher. but it's my body. if after doing some of this, i don't feel by July that i'm making progress, i think i will consider paying for one private lesson to see if that helps. i have been hoping to do 2 classes a week in the fall (the free senior and one paying). but i think i will also need to reconsider whether i think yoga is helpful to me, especially given the hearing issues. though at some point maybe i'll understand enough not to need to hear so well.
thanks to anyone who made it this far. more ideas and suggestions would be helpful. and for anyone doing Pilates ... do they find it necessary to talk as quietly?? maybe that would be a better choice for me?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Gramie suggested I do something like yoga, I decided that Tai Chi Chuan was near enough. It links nicely with my Chi Running and Chi Walking. I do take private lessons and while they are a bit more expensive, I do get direct feedback, and am slowly learning to be more aware of what my body is doing rather than what I think my body is doing.

    Another benefit is that sometime I will be taught to make a change to correct something, and the correction will not actually be to get to the movement completely correct, but is wrong in a specific way to help me get part way there, after a week or two when I have the in place, I will get another correction. It is sometimes funny to me how my teach can see I need to do A before I will be able to do B, or that doing A will lead to B faster.

    I was at a four day workshop, I found that many of the things happened too quickly form me to get on the fly. I am now working through them in my lessons. I know Tai Chi is not exacely like yoga, but the learning is somewhat similar. We have to learn to move our bodies and really listen to them (body sense) and over time it gets in side.

    I also practice Qigong exercises which are smaller and easier to learn exercise, that help with learning my Tai Chi Chuan form.

    2465 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/19/2012 10:07:51 AM
  • OOLALA53
    Just about every joint in your body can take a lot, but there are two areas I would be very careful of, even in yoga- my knees and my neck. There are lots of ways to prop the body to protect them.

    I've come to realize over the years what an anxious person I am. I was drawn to yoga and Zen meditation and they have helped, though I am learning more and more why. I'm still not like others without this issue, but am convinced I would be a real wreck if I hadn't done them. I don't think this is your issue, either, but it's still good stuff. If you have trouble with coordination of breathing and the other problems, yoga isn't the only way to help with those, and there is benefit to pursuing ways of dealing with them. The downside is that those practices can also end up having you focus a lot on what you can't do. It's not supposed to be the purpose, but it happens.

    In any case, you plan sounds smart. You're trying things and seeing what adds value. You live in a time and a place where that's possible. It is some people's dream come true.
    2474 days ago
    I would hope that a teacher would accommodate for student success, even with vocal volume - I find that one a problem because the discomfort of not hearing can interfere with the goal of the pose.

    Yoga can take some time, but it can really help. Not being flexible and having the poses be challenging when you start out puts you in the normal category. The pain, though . . . modify that pose and work up to it gradually.

    I find pilates to be a different animal, working on the muscle strength and integrity and not the flexibility as much.

    Keep finding the one that you like, and modify, modify, modify.
    2495 days ago
    i use to take yoga classes, and learned there are different kinds!! The first one I took , was all about doing "correct breathing ".. ok , moved onto another one, where it was about poses. and "praying" .. ok , the last one , was a mix of "yoga and platis " . so that was the one i really liked , and followed ..

    do u may be in a class, that is not what u need, its always good to explore ...for free too ! cool emoticon
    2506 days ago
  • CELLO23
    Hi Striver, hope your ankle is better. I haven't tried yoga but I really enjoyed tai chi - it was meditative but you stay in motion - quite dancelike (well, up to a point:) and don't feel as though you're straining anything. It also helped me with balance and feeling both relaxed and energised. In particular, it taught me a few easy spine stretches (great for sedentary workers) which I still use now. Or get a Qi Gong CD for the building blocks exercises of tai chi.
    But I agree with the comments above about your class - ask the teacher to speak up! To me that's such a teaching basic and I'd expect a teacher to check at the start of the class. And a 121 lesson sounds like a good idea, as you're a far from usual 'classic' runner :) - not with those distances and times! - and will be able to get answers right for your particular circs.
    Good luck!
    2508 days ago
    I'm so impressed by everything you do! Brilliant!
    I'm sorry about the hearing problem though - not relaxing at all. But doing yoga or meditation on your own or with a personal trainer could definitely help. As far as meditation is concerned I've got quite a little collection of it as it was the only thing that could relax me when I was expecting Baby Anya. We need to meet with a memory stick! Great!
    2509 days ago
    Wow, you got a lot of pro-yoga advice here, but I just want to put my two cents in for Pilates. Not mat pilates, but reformer pilates -- and other equipment, with a qualified instructor. I've been going twice a week for a couple of years and it really has changed my life! For one thing, there's very little repetition, and I like that a lot. Second thing is that I love the intense focus and the minute corrections that make a huge difference. Overall, I move more easily and gracefully than I did before, my balance is much improved, and I have fewer head and neck aches because my abs are doing their job and holding me up. I'm getting really strong and I've got a few years on you, girlfriend.

    On the other hand, you say you find it hard to relax, so the meditation part of yoga might be really good for you. My Chinese doctor has some meditation CDs out - I'll send you one. Send me your address in a Spark mail. One of them is called "Meditations to Live to Be 100." I don't take it literally, but since you've embarked on a whole new way of life at 60, this might be perfect :)
    2510 days ago
    I was going to suggest having a private lesson or two. That will give you a chance to really figure out exactly what should and should not be going on in different poses, etc. Plus, the teacher will be able to move you around and make sure you are doing things properly. It made so much difference for me to just stay after body balance once and ask the teacher about something, and have her put her hands on me and gentle help me into a pose.

    Good luck! I think yoga is one of the best things we can do for ourselves - at any age.
    2510 days ago
    first of all, we are not old:-)

    yoga is something where you start where you are, wherever that may be. you don't do what hurts. poses can be modified to anyone's needs, because just like running means that you are doing better than anyone still sitting on the couch, in yoga you are doing better than anyone not assuming a pose. there were many i could not do, or could only do the initial step, but each step is that much closer to the goal, and that much better than doing nothing.

    listen to your body...
    2510 days ago
  • NUMD97
    Heckuva coincidence in terms of timing. This is currently on my feed, and I think you'll get a lot out of this:

    Something to think about.

    As for your hearing, with all due respect, it's time to get that checked, as well as the hearing aids. It shouldn't be a situation where you must choose "either/or". I suspect your aids need to be retuned or you need a new audiology screen.

    For 60 plus, just know that you continue to be so awe-inspiring!


    2510 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/6/2012 1:10:07 AM
    You are not OLD! Goodness with all you do-if you are old, then I am ancient! emoticon You are as old as you feel! For even trying yoga that is a plus to start with-some of those moves I have seen them do! emoticon I am doing the 28 day bootcamp challenge on the team and goodness, I do feel old when I see some of the exercises Coach Nicole does! We all have to be careful in anything new to us or we aren't sure about-nothing is worth getting injured over! So, I improvise, substitute the ones I cannot do. Looks like Nicole has Pilates videos here too. I hope you get things figured out-Good luck! It is very inspiring to see your dedication in all that you do with exercise and improving your health! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2510 days ago
    You are such a rock star! Running + Yoga = AWESOME!

    Keep up your yoga! It will not only make a difference in your running performance... but in quality of life in general...

    If you can also do pilates great, but I wouldn't choose pilates over yoga. I think that yoga (like running) is a journey... it takes time... practice and patience... it's not about holding any position perfectly at a particular time.... your body will show the way just keep up...

    I am restarting my yoga videos an oh boy! My physical condition now is worse that the first time around...I cannot do anything yet but I will in the future I know it...

    About not being able to hear the instructor... just ask her to please speak louder or to position herself closer to you...I don't think she would mind...

    Love and hugs!
    2510 days ago
    My two cents' worth - persist, ask teacher to speak louder (in Iyengar yoga, I don't think soft-voiced instruction is necessarily a part of the experience - in yoga that focuses more on meditation, perhaps it is), and be patient with yourself as others have said.
    I did yoga a couple times a week for about 3 years in Florida - Iyengar style - and found it absolutely invaluable for learning to chill out, notice what is happening bodily on a deeper level, and to release tension. My teachers did all kinds of modifications for people with special needs in our class - it was a challenge that they liked and they stressed not whamming yourself into the "look" of the posture but following the instructions with awareness and being where your body needed to be. Especially important, I think, for runners with tightness in certain areas - like the front of the ankle which is usually an activated area when you're running. It took me quite a while (and I was in my 30s then) to easily relax into a stretch - probably because at that time I was VERY goal-oriented and that is something you learn to let go of in yoga. Being in the moment, being in your body - these are big things you learn and it takes time. Body learn slowly. I have also done Pilates and Pilates does not work on this. Feldenkrais is something you might try as well - it is gentle and very helpful in working out kinks, alignment issues, tightness, etc. I have not done it a lot but my friend CLAUDECF does it regularly in Paris. She is on Spark!
    It is GREAT that you are doing it, I think it will bring great benefits eventually!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2510 days ago
  • CANNIE50
    Okay, first off "old ladies" don't run and do yoga so obviously this term does not apply to you. How about "classic women" or "women of a certain vintage". much great advice in the other comments. I think your idea of booking a one on one session is a great idea, as well. PS I loved your lyrical description of why you run.
    2510 days ago
    There is a reason I do yoga to a DVD in the privacy of my own home.
    The poses shouldn't be hurting like that, though. If they are...I'd back off a bit. Any stretch that is pushed too far can be dangerous.
    I'd assume that pilates instructors would speak louder but don't know for sure.
    2510 days ago
    I can't do that pose you mentioned, either! At least not yet.
    I don't know if Pilates instructors speak more loudly, but my opinion is that you wouldn't get the same benefits that you do from yoga. Pilates is definitely great for increasing strength and flexibility and improving posture, but because you don't hold the poses for as long or do such a variety of poses, it doesn't have the same power for releasing energy and improving coordination as yoga does -- at least not for me. When I took group yoga lessons, I would come home feeling like I had TONS more energy than usual. It's be great if you could work both into your routine.

    As for the hearing issues, I agree that you should talk to your instructor, as it's very likely that you're not alone in this dilemma.
    2510 days ago
    Great for you for trying something new! You are being a little too hard on yourself though. Yoga is a "practice", which means that you're constantly practicing at it. Lol! No one is perfect or even necessarily good at it at first. It really takes time to learn. It's the "practice" of doing it that helps with things like balance and breathing etc. I've found that it really does help with balance, and my back feels really good afterwards. I haven't been able to do any for a long time now because of a broken arm last year and now shoulder surgery a couple of days ago, but I'm eager to get back to it.
    I agree with others here that if you can't hear your instructor; ask her/him to speak up. They want to help you!
    Don't worry if you feel a little klutzy at it. Most people are at first. I know I am every time I get back into after not doing it for awhile!

    2510 days ago
  • no profile photo SGREVET
    I agree that it's important for you to hear the instructor and that you should mention this to her so that you reap the greatest benefit and don't injure yourself in the process. But otherwise I think you're being too hard on yourself. Yoga isn't a competition, even though you may be doing it in a room full of people. Realize that it's not about them, but about your own journey, and getting the posture right/proprioception, working toward breathing correctly, quieting the mind, and learning to honor your body as it is right now in the present moment. As you continue your practice, you will realize all sorts of benefits: increased strength and flexibility, coordination, balance, calmness, concentration, mindfulness, awareness... But don't expect it all to happen overnight. Don't obsess about past or future, but enjoy the process and let yoga do its magic.
    2510 days ago
    Good for you for persisting. Have you thought about speaking to the instructor of the yoga for seniors class about if s/he could speak a little more loudly? After all, you are probably not the only one who is having some difficulty hearing. I have also found with the limited amount of yoga I have done, that it helps to find the ideal spot for yourself in relation to the instructor. I don't see well (we would make a complementary pair!), and so I like to be close to the front of the class (first or second row of mats) and just a bit off center.

    With respect to limitations, I also found that it helped to have a discussion with the instructor about some issues I had, and then she would give me some cues during the class not to do certain poses or to modify them. (I was taking yoga after having ruptured a couple of discs in my back.) Two of the three instructors I with whom I took classes were very helpful in this regard. The third wasn't, and so I voted with my feet and didn't go back to his class after the 2nd try.

    There are different styles of yoga, and the type I tried was Iyengar, which a colleague had recommended because Iyengar places a lot of emphasis on proper position. She joked that you spend your first six months learning how to spread your toes while standing, but that emphasis on form is very helpful for a beginner. You might see if you can find some Iyengar-oriented DVDs or webcasts that you could try at home for practice.

    I hope the classes go well! I have just discovered your blog, and it is making me a little homesick. My husband and I spent two years living in Paris (2005-07), and I would like to run around the city, or the Bois de Boulogne ...
    2510 days ago
    I'm proud of you for trying yoga! I'm a klutz, too...maybe I should do some yoga! :-)
    2510 days ago
    I hadn't thought at all about the earing problem... This is a problem indeed. If my yoga teacher wasn't stopping her classes, I would have recommended her: she gave one to one lessons, and this is how I did yoga for almost a year with her. All she said during the moves was "Inspirez, expirez", so you would have been fine. Otherwise, she just showed what to do or explained us before the move what to do, loudly enough I think and clearly. I never hurt myself in any way during any of the courses, but a few times I said I couldn't do a move, either because of sciatica or because all the fat on my body meant I couldn't bent or do something she wanted me to do!

    Anyway, my point is that a one to one lesson might help. And also that yoga can be uncomfortable, sometimes very, but that in my view it should never hurt. Please let us know how you progress in your search of something that works for you!
    2510 days ago
    good for you for trying something new and giving i a chance. i admire your courage to put yourself out there. emoticon emoticon
    2510 days ago
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