I hope you are loving this series as much as I am loving working on it. I have had the pleasure of connecting with yogis who are in different states via email and some who are local. I have to say that being able to meet and connect in person with some of the participants has added an extra layer of amazingness to this process.
This has been especially true of Janet and her mom Joanne. First of all, I have never met a Joanne that was not just simply amazing (I have some great ones in my life) and I knew I loved this Joanne when Janet told me she was interested in “chocolate yoga.” She was referring to the chakras, but I am all about this idea of chocolate yoga!
Janet shared her story last week and I was touched by the way she talked about how inspiring her 74 year old mother’s practice was, even after major surgery. I was giddy to find out that Joanne would actually be visiting Janet the next weekend and agreed to sit with me and tell her story.
Joanne is a 74 year old yogini recovering from bypass surgery, with strength and energy that will inspire you! Joanne is what a yogi looks like.
1. When did you start doing yoga and why? I started going to yoga when I was 70 years old. Janet said I would like it and brought me to a class. (Janet chimes in: “I took her to a heated Level 1-2 class and I looked over at her sweating and thought, what have I done? I have killed my mom! But, after class, she said she loved it.“) I live in Arizona and found a gym that offers great classes. I started going everyday.
2. What myths or misconceptions did you have about yoga before starting? I thought it would be too slow for me. I have always been active; aerobics, hiking and lots of exercise. It has been interesting to learn how yoga gives me power over my own body. I can notice my heart beat in my toes. It has improved my focus and done a lot for me in ways that are hard to explain. I can’t tell you whose around me when I practice or what they are doing. I have learned to focus in a whole new way. I often wonder where would I be today if I started doing yoga when I was 18?
3. What is your favorite pose and why? The warrior series. There is so much that goes into those poses, they raise your heart rate and require focus.
4. What are your thoughts on yoga and body image and has it affected your practice? People might think there is a “yoga body,” but there isn’t. Maybe people think that they won’t look good in yoga clothes, but if you are truly there for yourself, it doesn’t matter what the person next to you looks like.
5. Do you feel that yoga conflicts or compliments your religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identification or any other form of your identity? I don’t do it for any type of religion, I do it completely for me. Maybe I have not found the spiritual part of yoga yet, but I do notice I don’t pick up people’s negative energy as easily. I wish they would teach it to kids in schools!
6. What do you love most about yoga? Yoga gives me strength. It is something I do just for me and gives me energy for the rest of the day. There have been small things that I notice like being able to easily put something in the lower cupboard or putting my pants on without having to lean against something for support.
Yoga helped me recover from bypass surgery. (Janet says, “the doctor first came out and told me my mom would not make it through the night, and then when she did, he said she would never walk again. I stayed at the hospital with my mom and would practice yoga breathing with her when she would wake up and panic because of the tubes being down her throat. This kept her from having to be sedated and I believe got her released from the hospital much quicker.”)
The surgery was 6 hours long and I continued to have blood clots. But, 8 weeks later, I was back doing yoga. I slowly worked my way back and my strength gradually returned. I asked my doctor what I could do for therapy and was told “nothing” because there was tissue damage. I did not want to just sit in a chair and do nothing as the world went on around me. I started my focusing on my feet and moving them around like I was trying to expand a rubber band. I am now working on getting my crow pose back as strong as it was before my surgery!
I am going to tell my doctor when I go back to tell people to do yoga!
7. What would you say to someone who is hesitant about starting a yoga practice? Yoga can give you more in your life than you can imagine. Everyday is different, somedays I can’t do what I did the previous day, but no one cares if you go to child’s pose. Accept yourself and your capabilities. It gets so important as we get older. You have to have more discipline because there isn’t as much busyness in life with kids and work as there was when we were younger. It’s easy to get lazy, but, if we don’t work the strength of our bodies, we will lose it.
Thank-you, Joanne! It was a true pleasure to connect with you!
Would you like to be featured? I would love to hear about your yogic journey. I am looking for yogis of all levels, years of experience, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identifications and sects. Please email me at angieeatspeace at gmail.com.