My Retirement Yoga Journey

Anyone who knows me, or hopefully reads Encore Voyage, should have figured out by now that I am one of the most snarky, sarcastic chicks you’ll ever meet.  I am most emphatically NOT the type of person who comes to mind when you consider the practice of yoga.  But as we headed down this road in retirement, I began to notice that getting up off of the floor isn’t as easy as it once was!  I was losing core strength and stamina, and I didn’t like it ONE BIT!

Even I couldn’t imagine myself sitting in a room acting all zen-like.  Heck, most people can’t even imaging me being quiet for that long!  That said, about two years ago, when my brand new gym opened, I started one of the gym-based yoga classes.  I figured I wouldn’t feel too stupid if I started out new like everyone else.

At the time, my thinking was that this might be a nice gentle type of workout. (I’m not a big fan of feeling my heartbeat in my ears!)  I ended up attending two classes a week for the better part of a year.

What I didn’t realize is that

Yoga sneaks up on you, and quietly changes
the person you are, from the inside out.

  • Slowly, steadily, your body becomes stronger, through the many asanas or poses.  Anyone who thinks that yoga is just a bunch of stretches has been misled.  Yoga is not for wimps!  I can work up quite a sweat in a yoga practice.
  • Your balance is improved from attempting balancing poses.  As we age, lack of balance is one of the most common causes of falls.  I figured it couldn’t hurt to be able to stand confidently on one foot while putting on my jammies, right?
  • You do not need to be flexible to practice yoga!  Flexibility is a benefit of yoga!  I heard someone say, “You are only as young as your spine is flexible.”  I have found that my lower back pain has disappeared as a result of my practice.
  • Yoga is about self-acceptance!  One of my favorite aspects of the yoga journey is that it is not about competition – not even with yourself!  It’s about listening to your body and finding what feels good and right in that moment.
  • There are many different types of yoga for many different purposes.  Some move quite quickly, and others are more restorative.   Certain yoga poses accomplish different things, and with a little training, you can pick and choose what is best for you.  (As for me, hot yoga…two words – never.again!)
  • Attending to the breath in a yoga practice yields a mindfulness and a quality of meditation that surprised me.  This is where my snarkiness got tamed.  I wasn’t expecting it.  The more I practiced, the more I was able to see the carry-over into the rest of my day.  I don’t get crazy in traffic.  I don’t feel rushed.  I am generally more peaceful, appreciative, and balanced than I was before. Crazy – I know!

I did find when I was first starting out that it was helpful to have a knowledgeable yoga instructor who could really guide me into the intention and correctness of the poses.  It’s not about just yanking yourself around, trying to get into some shape.  Yoga is much, much, more.  Now I find that I really also enjoy a home practice, and YouTube has an endless supply of yoga videos, of all lengths and styles.  A particular favorite of mine is Yoga with Adrienne.  Adrienne Mishler has just the right personality, and is not too fast or too serious.

So how about it retired yogis?  Anything else you’d like to add?

Lynn

Oh…one more thing.  If you do take up yoga, don’t cheap out on purchasing a yoga mat.  Get a nice, slightly thicker one.  Your knees will thank you!

29 thoughts on “My Retirement Yoga Journey

  1. samfiftysomething

    I love Yoga, but since we moved onto the boat I haven’t been very good at sticking to my ‘Yoga time’. You’ve reminded me that my Yoga mat is waiting, now I need to make some room in the boat. I’m sure I won’t be as bendy as I was when I first started 🙂

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    Reply
    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      I had stopped for quite a little while, and it is amazing how much strength I lost during that time. But it feels great to feel it coming back, bit by bit! Best of luck with your practice! ~ Lynn

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  2. patwdoyle11

    I picked up yoga about a year ago with a try it for a month focus. You can do anything for one month, right? And it’s an amount of time to get over the one-class-I’m-not-sure-about-this beginner feel. And I was hooked. Flexibility, core strength, balance – yup, yup, yup. I’ve never been someone who exercises so improvement in core strength was a shocker! It was the first thing I picked back up again after surgery… I got a couple of CDs from a friend so I could do it at home when I knew a full class would be too much. I will need to check out Adrianne! Personally I like the Flow, not the Yin and am not at all sure about hot yoga – I sweat up a storm in basic yoga! I had to find a slip-proof mat (TMI?).

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Not at all! I’m right there with you, girl! I just found that hot yoga, aside from being in a room that is 104 degrees, just did not play well with my menopausal hot flashes. I don’t think, in the final shavasana, a girl should be thinking, “Get me the hell out of here!” 😉 ~ Lynn

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  3. snakesinthegrass2014

    I always end my gym workouts with a pretty decent stretching routine, but I know it’s nothing like what yoga could offer me. The only thing that has stopped me from really trying it thus far has been the cost. But it I’d something I’d like to try someday. – Marty

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    Reply
    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      You’d be amazed at how many men show up in a yoga class. I highly recommend starting with one of Adrienne’s You Tube videos for beginners. Then you could see if you like it. Cost is why I don’t do yoga at a studio, now that my gym has limited yoga offerings. My home practice does just as well ~ Lynn

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  4. Shallow Reflections

    I took a yoga class years ago and liked it. I’ve thought of doing it now, but practice another workout called Classical Stretch that combines elements of yoga, tai chi, Pilates and ballet. But I realize reading your post that I need the mental help. Even though I’m semi-retired and live in an area that is not heavily populated, I manage to work myself up into a swearing session every time I drive somewhere. Perhaps one’s ability to cope with other drivers is a good barometer of one’s mental health?

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  5. Natalie

    Great post, Lynn! I’ve been practicing yoga for many years and truly enjoy the benefits that you pointed out. I started with Ashtanga for about eight years and have switched to Hatha yoga. Initially I attended classes and had different instructors over time. I currently practice at home. For people who are new to yoga, I’d suggest to view videos of the various types of yoga, or if possible, attend trial classes, to see which one seems most comfortable for them in terms of instructor’s style, rigour, intensity, heavy on theory or not, etc. Don’t give up if the first one doesn’t work well. It’s worth exploring and once you find the right type, you’ll enjoy it for as long as you want to keep the practice.

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    Reply
    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Thank you, Natalie, for your sage advice! It’s important to find exactly the right fit! Even different instructors on different videos have their own vibe. Folks should keep looking for the one that resonates!

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  6. www.retirementreflections.com

    Hi, Lynn – Great post! You really covered the key benefits of yoga. With slow steady practice, it definitely does ‘sneak up on you…and change you from the inside out’. I agree that there are great free Yoga videos out there. For those just starting out, ‘Yoga for Dummies’ also offers very slow, gentle and clear instructions. Namaste.

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  7. Pingback: My Retirement Yoga Journey — An Encore Voyage – Awaken Yoga Therapy

  8. Joanne Sisco

    I took the yoga class at my gym for a long time and noticed all the things you mentioned. I was feeling strong and powerful! … then the instructor left the gym. I loved her – she was wonderful! … but her replacement was a poor substitute. I gradually stopped going.
    Thanks for the tip on Yoga with Adrienne. I will need to check it out. As you mentioned, maintaining flexibility and balance gets even more important as we age.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Joanne, that is exactly the journey that led to my home practice. The yoga teacher I started with was outstanding, and I am thankful that she taught me the “basics” as well as getting my “yoga perspective” right. Since then, I really like Yoga with Adrienne, rather than settle for an instructor who doesn’t fit me. ~ Lynn

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  9. Eda

    Hello, Lynn. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have found your blog. I just happened to follow a link to your line about how yoga gets inside you. With your permission, I’d like to use it on my own blog. My hubs and I are just starting out on a very similar journey. We’re both so excited we can barely sit still. I hope to glean some wisdom from reading your blog. Thanks for being there! And I hope you’re enjoying Hawaii, if you’re still there. That’s where we’re headed!

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    1. Eda

      Oh, and I’m totally with you about the home yoga practice and Adriene. She and about a dozen other fantastic teachers helped me get through a boatload of horrible last year.

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    2. Encore Voyage Post author

      I’m so glad you are joining us on the Voyage! We have certainly learned a great deal about life after employment. But we are having more fun now than we ever had when we were both employed by others! ~ Lynn

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  10. Pingback: Moving Forward | Tokyo Tales

  11. Pingback: Guest post: Yoga is my only purpose | Vikrant Sawant – HUMAN WRITES

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