At yoga class today, I heard my teacher say her oft-repeated mantra: Listen to your body. She cautions us to not push ourselves in ways that make our bodies hurt. Should we feel any strain or discomfort, we need to back off. As she puts it, “Listen to your body when it’s whispering so you don’t have to listen to it scream.”
I started exercising in earnest less than five years ago when I had just turned sixty. I have never been an athlete in any sense of the word. Physical Education was my scariest subject. Give me a frog or a cat to dissect, and I was a happy camper, but send me to P.E. and my heart fluttered and my knees were weak. I was that kid in gym class who covered her face when the ball came towards her. Yeah, that kid. The last person to be picked for any team. It was a real stretch for me to start yoga four and a half years ago.
In class today, one of my classmates came up to me and started talking about how bad her knees are and how hard it is for her to do some of the poses. “I hate what getting old does to my body, don’t you?” I wanted to be a team player (the Old People Team), so I commiserated with her. But in reality, I’m thinking how much I love what getting older has done for my body. I actually feel better now than I’ve felt in a long time. I walk everywhere, I go to the Y three times a week, do yoga twice there and sometimes another time at home, and am contemplating taking Zumba tone (Zumba with weights). Yes, my knees are slightly arthritic and I can’t do squats, I’m not very flexible, though yoga has helped, and I don’t have the range of motion in my shoulders I once had. But as I listen to my body, it’s telling me that I’ve done a good thing for it by joining the YMCA and exercising and being faithful to my yoga practice.
It’s also telling me to get kick-boxing out of my mind.