Lessons learned from my 93 year old Yoga Student

I have a student that has been coming to one of my weekly yoga classes for at least 7 years. She stands on her head, breaths deeply, twists, lunges and soaks up the healing of savasana (corpse pose) every Wednesday  morning in my Carmel class. She’s been dedicated to her yoga for decades, and makes the commitment to keep showing up.

Oh, and she happens to be 93 years old.

Yes, you heard right  – 93.

As I was out on a gorgeous and inspiring morning hike, I passed a woman on the trail who was probably in her late 70’s or early 80’s, and knew that I too wanted to keep hiking the steep mountains I love until at least that age.

This led me to think of Harriet, and all that I learn from having her amazing spirit in my class.

First, let me say that Harriet does her headstand everyday, published her first book last year (Harriet Shanner’s Little Green Book), has more of a social life than I do, and has this sassy spunk about her that makes women half her age look lifeless.

What I know of her “don’t haves” is that she lost her husband over 40 years ago, doesn’t drive/have a car, and does not have the youth we so worship in Western society.

But she “lives” more that most people I know, isn’t afraid to ask for help and refuses to get in her own way or have others tell her what she “should” do.

All the time I have clients, potential clients, students and potential students much younger than Harriet tell me how they’re “too old” or “too inflexible” to do yoga, or to start something new, or make changes, etc.

And I always tell them about Harriet.

Seriously, this senior fireball inspires me to keep showing up to my yoga practice and in my life.

She inspires me to take care of myself and my body because it’s the only one I have in this life (and I want to be that spunky at 93).

She inspires me to keep expanding outside my comfort zone. Afterall, she could just settle into that comfort zone of being a “little old lady” and stop coming to yoga or going out to parties.

She inspires me to “get over it” when I buy into some kind of supposed limitations, as I realize she could easily see being 93 as a reason to stop coming to yoga class.

She inspires me to ask for help and get support. She doesn’t drive and lives alone, but she never hesitates to ask for a ride from those she knows, and sometimes those she doesn’t know.

She inspires me to follow my dreams NOW and not make excuses. If she can publish her first book at 90 something, I can certainly write my article or book chapter NOW.

I share this with you to show you that pretty much anything is possible if you get over yourself and just show up! Oh, and to always ask for help and support if you don’t know how. : )

6 Sacred Lessons to learn from Harriet:

  1. Just show up. When you show up magic always happens. First, you need to show up for yourself. Then you can show up for others.
  2. Get out of your own way. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, stop making excuses and start taking action towards the health and the life you want, even if it’s baby steps.
  3. Stay out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to stand on your head everyday, (although it wouldn’t hurt), but you can do things in a new way, let go of what doesn’t serve you, and enjoy the freedom that flows when you embrace that uncomfortable newness and expansion.
  4. Don’t buy into the myth. Whether it’s that getting older = getting sicker, stiffer and more medicated; or believing that as a woman you can’t do this, or as a son of a doctor you can’t do that . . . whatever that myth or story (your own or someone else’s) – Don’t buy it!
  5. Stay sassy! It keeps you agile in mind, body and spirit. Plus it makes EVERYTHING  more fun. : )
  6. Ask for help. Want to climb a mountain? Get a trainer. Want to start a new exercise program? Enlist a friend to hold you accountable. Want to change your diet? Get a nutrition coach. Want to go back to school, but don’t have the cash? Get a loan or talk to your family or friends. Whatever your need or desire is, getting help will generally get you there faster,

Most of all, what I learn from Harriet is to not let life pass me by. To stand for what’s important to me and keep rocking my life by living from my best self – my true self.

“You have hit on the secret to true success, which is living one’s life the way one wants to live it.” ~ R.F. Delderfield (from Harriet Shanner’s Little Green Book)

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