I walked in to the 11am weekday yoga class at the gym, knowing it would be full of elders. The only other class that takes place between 9:30 and 5:30pm at my gym is Silver Sneakers. I do, after all, live in the town where people come to die.
I was not wrong. I put my mat down to an elderly man wearing ratty sweatpants and a ribbed tank undershirt that I could see his hairy nipples through. He had tufts of white hair coming off of his head, his ears, his nose. No organic cotton, hand-dyed, sanskrit-printed $80 t-shirt for Grandpa Tufts – he looked more like someone you expect to see eating off a TV tray in front of a Mets game.
A bearded yogi, in the tight, organic cotton, hand-dyed, sanskrit-printed tank top, beaded bracelets and fitted yoga shorts took a spot a couple of rows behind me. He immediately took lotus pose and closed his eyes, hands over heart.
A small, elderly woman in a baby blue velour track suit stepped to the front of the room and took off her Keds. She was wearing full make-up and chunky, plastic jewelry that coordinated with her tracksuit. She advised us to all sit “criss-cross applesauce” and begin to connect to our breath. She was our teacher.
I was expecting this to be an easy class, something restorative, maybe an opportunity to get in a good stretch. I had brought my sneakers so I could jump on the elliptical afterward to get a “real” workout.
Then our instructor took off her jacket to reveal the most toned, chiseled arms I have seen on a woman of any age – along with chunky, blue plastic bracelet cuffs. Grandpa Tufts sat up straight and took full lotus pose, like the badass yogi that he was. A handful of other elders wearing simple, gray or brown shorts and t-shirts did the same. It began to dawn on me that I was in a room of expert yogis.
I don’t sweat a lot. I rarely sweat much at any yoga class unless I am in a hot room or taking a particularly vigorous class. Yet here I was, dripping. I have never sweat so much from moving so little while sitting in an air-conditioned room in my entire life. We made tiny micro-movements with our head and neck for ten minutes. By the end of that ten minutes, my heart was pounding and beads of sweat were dripping down my back. The instruction repeated over and over was “slowly! slowly!”.
Thirty minutes in, Bearded Yogi took Savasana in a pool of his own sweat. The instructor came over to make sure he was okay. After 45 minutes, I left my own puddle of forehead sweat after taking Child’s Pose. Meanwhile, Grandpa Tufts had his leg above his head in Dancer’s Pose. Sometimes, looks can be deceiving.
I hadn’t stepped into Yoga For Old Folks With Creaky Joints, I had stepped into Yoga for Badass Elders Who Could Teach You A Thing or Two About Staying Fit.
Sometimes life surprises you. Sometimes you think you know things and you are completely wrong. Sometimes Grandpa Tufts schools your ass in yoga class.
I can’t wait to go back.