Older Students Fare Better Than The Young Ones.

My yoga teaching career is coming up on two months old next week. This is exciting I will have about 22 classes under my belt... Which isn't bad for someone who only teaches twice a week and carries a full time corporate job.

But one thing I have noticed since teaching is this: The older the student is, the more determined they are to do the class.

Nothing against younger people at all. But a Bikram yoga class knocks everyone off of their ass the first time they do it. And the second time. And the third. And the 100th.

It is amazing how the same 26 postures and two breathing exercises never gets old and is always a challenge. That is because there is so much more going on in the room than just you moving your body and doing the poses.

Bikram yoga is a mind game, people. Your mind messes with you. You have mirrors all around you. You have no choice but to stare at yourself. It is hot. Sweat, toxins and memories pour out of your body and brain. You have to accept that it is going to be a real challenge even before you walk through the doors to lay down your mat.

And from what I have seen, the older the person is, the easier it is for them to accept this.

I have had two students walk out of class since starting teaching. That is it. They were newbies. They were, quite frankly, not in touch with what to expect. I explained to each of them, "It will be hot. You will need water. You will need to tie your hair back. Just sit down if you get overwhelmed."

Only one brought in water. Both had their hair down. (One didn't bother pulling any of it back!) Both left the room a few times. Both were young. Early 20s.

I encouraged them to stay the first time. Implored them the second time. The third time, I just ignored them. My focus was to keep with the rest of the class... And not waste time with people who didn't want to work on themselves.

But after that class, I started to pay attention to the other students who struggle in class. Who gives up easily and just sits down? Who lies down early on? Who drinks water repeatedly? Who gets back into poses when they fall out? Who comes up afterwards and thanks me for encouraging them?

The younger ones struggle more. The ego in some of them hasn't been told to back the hell off yet. The older students (and by this, I don't actually mean "old." I mean my age - early 30s - and above) can take the challenge that is being presented to them. They know they will have to work hard to change their bodies. Their minds have accepted this.

And once you accept this, it makes things easier to process in the class.

Everyone is different. Nothing is easy. If it is easy, why do it? That's not why you come to class.

Some students have mastered that lesson before they get through the door. Their class challenge lies elsewhere in their body. Other students - yes, usually the young ones - have to learn this first before they change their body.

4 comments:

ellelove7 said...

True mental fortitude is difficult to come by in a younger person as they (most often) have not been through anything difficult that would require them to build that quality, in my opinion. :)

AliveintheFire said...

Love this post! It brings up a lot of great questions about concentration and maturity.

Thanks for sharing. :)

I can't wait to see what things I notice as a teacher someday!

desiretoacquire said...

So true! I'm 50 yr old mom of 2 teens, I'm short and sometimes plump, but I've done a bikram challenge and then some. I was inspired when, in my first class, I saw two grey haired yogis (who resembled Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep but with better skin and boobs) with the most beautiful standing bow.

On the other hand, there are newbies my daughter's age (17 - 19) who come to their first week and lay down after 3 poses. And if someone's going to pass out, it's usually a young girl.

I think it has to do with being physically and mentally prepared. The 'mature' students hydrate and will eat a small meal 2 hours or so before the class, because we know we need to do it. The young 'uns just show up, having consumed nothing more than a cookie and a coffee for the entire day, and think they'll be fine.

And btw, 30 is not old :)

bikramarian said...

I never really thought about this before, but now that you pointed it out, so true!

My favorite quote: "Sweat, toxins and memories pour out of your body and brain." Damn straight.