Donna started practicing yoga 3 years ago at the age of 85. I can remember the first day that she came into my yoga class. She walked up to me before class started to let me know this was her first yoga class ever. I feel like a lot of people who come to class for the first time are (understandably) a little nervous, but I couldn’t tell if she was at the time. I gave her a few tips as we started class.
She was already active, and had been all her life. When her kids were young she stayed home with them; but at 10:30 she would stop everything and exercise with the TV. Later when the kids were older she and her husband would go to the gym before work about 5am. Nowadays, in addition to the one day a week of yoga she has consistently done since that first day, she also attends a “Sit and Be Fit” class 3 days a week and walks a mile almost every day.
We talked a bit about her time at the gym nowadays and she told me about the great friends that she’s made in each of her classes. We talked about the importance of great new friends, especially at the age of 88. She even goes to lunch once a month with some friends that she made in one of her classes and mentioned how she “wouldn’t have known any of these people if they hadn’t shown up to class.”
So what made her attend her first yoga class anyway? She had watched her grandkids do yoga before and she wanted one more day for classes at the gym that would fit into her schedule. Luckily, “gentle yoga” fit the bill.
When she first started coming, EVERYTHING was hard. But, she persevered and as she’s practiced more, a lot of the exercises are no longer difficult.
Yoga has helped with her pain. She had to have back surgery in 2005; prior to that, there were some days she couldn’t stand up because the pain was so severe. She has inflammatory deteriorating discs in her neck (all 7 of the discs in her neck) and osteopenia. She has arthritis in her shoulder, back, knee and hips. And her tailbone curves out to a complete “U.” Does this stop her from coming to class? No! Donna is determined and a true inspiration!
Yoga has helped her a lot with her arthritis pain. She also had gone to physical therapy for 2 and a half months for her neck and the physical therapist told her that yoga is the best thing she can do for her neck. She noticed that several of the exercises we do in class are the same as those she did in physical therapy. Yoga has also helped with her back pain, as she stated, “Unless I foolishly lift something I shouldn’t, I rarely have back pain.”
When I asked her why she keeps coming to class, she stated that she has to do something on Monday because she is stiff and tired. After class, she is no longer stiff or tired and she can’t wait to get here and get started.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that she still works in the office of her condominium, doing contracts and sales. She has started working her schedule around class and lets clients know she can meet them before or after class time. She has learned that you need to set time for yourself. What a valuable lesson!
My favorite quote from Donna as we spent a little time together that day was: “It’s amazing how much you can actually do no matter how old you get.” I couldn’t agree more. Donna, you are a true inspiration to me and I know to many others. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!
Thank you for reading this story—if you feel inspired by it, will you share it with a friend or someone else who can use some inspiration today?