Young at Heart

By:  Cindi Lee – Yoga Instructor

Contributor’s Website:  Cindi Lee Yoga
There are certain individuals I meet and I just have to share them with the world. It is my pleasure to introduce to you one of my most inspiring yoga students, Ben Earl. Ben is my eldest student in years and my youngest student at heart. Born in 1924 Ben is 87 years young and comes to yoga class every week. Yes, you read correctly, 87 years of age meaning there are NO excuses for the rest of us. And guess what, he only started practicing yoga three years ago. Clearly, it is never too late to begin a yoga practice of your own. By the looks of Ben, you’d never know his age. Ben is sharp, he is in great shape, and he is an amazing storyteller. At an age where it is completely appropriate to be grumpy and crotchety about your aches and pains, Ben chooses to find the joy in everyday life. Recently after class, Ben allowed me to interview him. I hope you find yourself learning, laughing, and truly listening as much as I do when I am in Ben’s presence. 

Enjoy my  interview with Ben…

 “What inspires you on a daily basis?” Ben sort of rolls his eyes, he’s not really into the spiritual side of yoga.

“Oh, I guess that life is so enjoyable at the present time, that’s what inspires me.”

 How long have you been coming to yoga classes?

 I’ve been using yoga for about three years. I find it very helpful, it’s great for golf.

Is your golf game better?

It sure is, compared to what it would have been.

Why do you feel it is important for you to practice yoga with a certified yoga instructor as opposed to practicing on your own?

Well, because I think you’d revert to a lesser level of attainment if you were trying to maintain it on your own. Also, the positions you think you are in properly, undoubtedly you are not in. So its helpful.

That’s a good point. What benefits are you experiencing from your yoga practice?

Largely physical. Anybody who wants to maintain good physical condition needs to do yoga. There is no question in my mind, now that I’ve learned what yoga is. Particularly as you get older for your flexibility. Anybody, even for that matter, if you are young and you are playing golf and tennis, all those kinds of activities, it’s absolutely essential. Particularly for golf.

Particularly golf. Is that because of the golf swing?

Every position that you are asked to do in yoga is exactly what you are suppose to do in golf.

Really? I didn’t know that. I am terrible at golf! The ball goes in the opposite direction

It’s absolutely amazing! I didn’t know it either until I started doing yoga. Everything I was trying to do in golf is exactly what yoga requires of you. Balancing, twisting, flexibility, and particularly maintaining the rotating of an axis. Instead of swaying back and forth. You use your inner leg muscles too.

What is your favorite yoga pose and why?

I think Bridge pose is my favorite. Second or equivalent to that is plank pose. Plank pose is fabulous for your general well being. It isn’t easily done but it sure is important.

Bridge Pose seems like a pretty simple back bend but there is a lot of great work happening in the pose (benefits are described below). What is your least favorite yoga pose?

Hmmmmm (he laughs). I guess it’s stretching forward when seated, it is nearly impossible for me.

We’ll have to do more of those (chuckle). What advice would you give to someone who wants to come to yoga class but feels intimidated?

(a long pause) Well, do just the best you can do, I mean do it to your own level. That ought to satisfy you. As long as your not embarrassed having others look like geniuses and you look like a dumbbell. I would think practicing at any level would be the thing to try and achieve.

People say to me all the time, I can’t come to yoga class, I not flexible enough, I don’t have enough strength.

That shouldn’t deter anybody but it seems to.

Any final thoughts about yoga?

Only that I would ask everybody that wants to stay well or get better from whatever ails them to come to a yoga class at whatever level they feel comfortable in.

That sounds like a great New Years Resolution, thanks Ben!

Get in touch with your inner BEN and practice Bridge Pose.

Bridge Pose/ Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

  1. Lie on the floor and roll onto your back. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, bring heels in towards your buttocks until just the tip of your middle finger can craze your heels or as close to that as possible. 
  2. Place your palms face down on the ground. Let all four corners of your feet rest into the floor equally the entire time you practice Bridge Pose. Make sure your big toes remain parallel. 
  3. Vertebra by vertebra lift your hips up towards the ceiling. Your knees are in line with your ankles. Your buttocks and tailbone are relaxed, not squeezing like buns of steel. Engage your core, pretend someone is lifting you up by your belly button towards the sky. 
  4. I like to shimmy my shoulder blades closer towards one another, relax your shoulders. 
  5. The front of your body is engaged, the back of your body is passive. Stretch your thighs, knees, and shins towards the front of the space. Passively tuck your chin towards your chest, keeping the back of your head on the ground. This allows the back of your neck to stretch as well. 
  6. Stay in the pose 30 seconds to a minute. You can also pulse lifting your hips and down 5 times instead of holding the pose. When finished, release with an exhalation, lowering down vertebra by vertebra. 
  • Enjoy the amazing BENEFITS of Bride Pose 
  • Stretches the chest, neck, and spine 
  • Calms the brain and helps alleviate stress and mild depression 
  • Stimulates abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid 
  • Rejuvenates tired legs 
  • Improves digestion 
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause 
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort when done supported 
  • Reduces anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache, and insomnia 
  • Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and sinusitis 

Yoga Tip: Don’t let your ego get in the way of your longevity. As Ben says, “Do YOUR best.”

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Contributor’s Website:  Cindi Lee Yoga

Image Credits:  photos of Ben Earl taken by Cindi Lee

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