An incidental grandma yogi with a never-say-die attitude, Louise has been a great inspiration to us in many ways. We admire her perseverance and determination throughout the years of practice. She is a true testament that Ashtanga Yoga is for everyone and anyone (not just for the young and flexible) who is willing to put the effort, discipline and consistency.
Louise and her husband, Richard who has been encouraging and supporting her yoga journey.
1. What is the MOST challenging aspect of the practice for you?
My lack of confidence in myself that I can do the challenging poses. I am not very flexible and added to that I have had a bad knee for quite a few years and more recently left shoulder pain. I took a break from yoga for about a year and procrastinated about returning to the mat because I thought I would have to start from scratch. However, once I did re-start, I realised that yoga is like riding a bicycle – you never forget, you only get rusty from lack of use. What I thought would be challenging actually was not!
2. What is the BIGGEST breakthrough for you in the years of practice?
I have many! First has to be touching my toes! As I mentioned earlier, I am not the most flexible person around and I could not even do this when I first started practicing! That I can now do a backbend and headstand (albeit assisted), is my current “BIGGEST breakthrough”. How cool is that!
3. Mysore (self practice) or LED?
I do not really have a preference for either one. I enjoy both – Mysore allows me to move at my own pace and enjoy my inner peace and LED refreshes me of the “correctness” of poses, the importance of breathing correctly, the need to listen. Hence, every few weeks I do enjoy a LED class.
4. How has the practice changed or influenced the way you live your life?
The most important is that yoga has taught me that it is alright AND important to set aside “me time”. Once I accepted this, I was able to deal with a few difficult personal issues in a calmer, more focused way. I have accepted that it is sometimes far better to let go and move on, that I am not able to solve everything – that with patience and understanding, things will change – whether for better or worse, whichever way it is better to have change than to stagnate!
5. Do you think Ashtanga Yoga is suitable for seniors based on your personal experience?
I started yoga in my mid-50’s and this year I will be 61. For me, practicing yoga has helped me to improve my well-being, my stamina, my strength both mental and physical. It was challenging to begin with because, first, I had to commit to the practice on a regular basis and, second, I was using and stretching muscles I never used. On top of that I had to remember the sequence and many a time I had to repeat till I did remember!
I ached like crazy and wanted to stop many many times when the aches got bad. But I refused to give in! And so yoga has given me the resolve to work through difficulties and accept alternatives along the way. Much more than that too is the determination to remember the poses and sequence (which took me quite a while to do) – to exercise my brain at the same time which is so important as you age.
And today I am proud to say that I do remember and can practice what Shirly has taught me on my own. With Ashtanga Yoga you can progress as fast or as slow as you want, push yourself however much you want and set your own goals – it is not a race or competition with your fellow mat friends, you are your own judge and jury. So yes I do think Ashtanga Yoga is suitable for us “seniors” but like all physical activity, you have to always bear in mind your own limitations.