Do you think the glass is half empty…the grass is always greener…that the sky is falling?
I’ve always suspected that attitude has a significant bearing on how we age and, as I watch my parents, my in-laws and friend’s parents age, I see this being played out all around me.
For example, my Mum has a positive approach to aging. She flaunts her age and couldn’t WAIT to get her hands on a senior’s card! She seems to gain vitality with every birthday and has declared her intention to celebrate her 70th birthday by jumping out of an aeroplane.
We believe vitality isn’t reserved for the young, so I thought I’d interview my Mum about how she does it
Jane, do you think there is a correlation between attitude and ageing?
Definitely. Everyone gets older and you never know what’s around the corner so you have to make the most of every day. Yet I look around our complex and see people who hardly leave their homes. Rain or shine they sit inside watching tv and doing crossword puzzles.
Being interested in people, places and things around you keeps you young at heart and connected to the community.
What does ‘vitality’ mean to you?
Vitality is about having energy. To me, it’s more about feeling good than looking good. I’ve got two young grandsons who keep me on my toes and I want to be able to keep up with them.
You’ve been doing yoga for a long time. What drew you to yoga and how has your practice changed?
My first experience of yoga was over 40 years ago. I wanted to go to an exercise class after work but there wasn’t anything nearby except yoga in the local church hall. In the 70’s only hippies did yoga so it was a bit out there! My teacher, Mrs Raymond went to India twice a year to study. We didn’t know what to think!
I convinced my highly stressed husband to come along because I thought the relaxation would do him some good. Mrs Raymond made him a couple of relaxation tapes and although the tapes are long gone, he still uses the meditation techniques.
We continued for about two years, until the birth of our first daughter, Alexandra. I found another teacher after I gave birth and took my daughter along, which was unusual. ‘Mums and bubs’ yoga didn’t exist back then.
Over the years I have taken up yoga many times, only to become uninterested after the classes became increasingly predictable. And, as I’ve gotten older I find group classes less suitable; I don’t need or want the same experience as a twenty-year-old.
I started practising yoga with Georgina one-on-one earlier this year and although I may be a little biased, she’s a knowledgeable and passionate yogi. Taking into account my age, health issues and goals, she tailors each practice just for me. She modifies the poses for my body and I can ask as many questions as I like (which tends to be frowned upon in group classes). She gives me a copy of each sequence and suggestions for practising at home. I now leave my mat out as a reminder and try to practice for 15 minutes every few days. My balance and flexibility have improved noticeably and the osteoarthritis in my left foot is causing less pain.
How else do you look after your physical, mental and emotional health?
My father was sporty and he encouraged me to be active. Well into my thirties I played a variety of sport, including tennis, hockey, softball, basketball and golf. I swam and rode my bike for miles around Adelaide and then Canberra. Work and family took over but I always tried to squeeze in a walk before or after work, particularly if I was feeling stressed or cranky. A long walk did me the world of good!
I’ve experienced minor health conditions over the years but have been very fortunate with my health. Aside from yoga, I train with a PT twice a week. At the moment we’re working on balance and lower body strength. He pushes me hard and I hate going but I always feel great when I’m finished and pleased that I can do things I couldn’t do a couple of years ago, like walking lunges.
I look after my mental health by volunteering, socialising and challenging myself to learn new things, like how to use my new smart phone. I think it’s really important to keep up with technology. My husband and I also travel frequently. We’re off to Tasmania soon and I’m planning holidays to the Barossa Valley, England and Paris.
My relationship to food is probably my downfall. I’m a serial dieter and have seen countless diet fads come and go. I love food and try to be mindful of portion-control but, let’s be honest, sometimes the portions control me!
I’m terrified but both you and Sam have done it so why not me? You only live once!
What do you see yourself doing in five year’s time?
Much the same really. Keeping my body and mind healthy, travelling, meeting new people and learning new things. I’ll be 75 but age is just a number. I don’t let it define me.