Challenge: a word I love, a word I live by.
My journey to find yoga began when I took up trapeze and Argentine Tango, and it all happened when I was 83 years.
I plunged into trapeze and realized I needed more core strength to do both basic trapeze and tricks, like summersaults and splits in the air.
At the same time, I was also starting Argentine Tango and realized that I needed both balance and core strength.
I had been reading a book by B.K.S. Iyengar. His most known student was Yehudi Menuhin, who started yoga late in his life, at age 90. Menuhin was a great violinist in the forties and fifties; I was fortunate enough to have heard him play many times. Menuhin says, “The practice of Yoga induces a primary sense of measure and proportion. Reduced to our own body our first instrument, we learn to play it. Drawing from it maximum resistance and harmony. With unflagging patience we refine and animate every cell, as we return daily to the attack, unlocking and liberating capacities condemned to frustration and death. It is a technique ideally suited to prevent physical and mental illness and to protect the body generally.” His words inspired me to enter the universal practice, the wonderful physical and mental practice of yoga.
I’ve always had a partnership with my body and mind. Exercise has never been work for me. My body cries to be used and I love my body, so everyday I do what it asks. I actually feel sick if I don’t start the day with various kinds of exercises, always including some kind of yoga.
I started dancing at the age of 5, with tap and acrobatic. Ballet and contemporary dance became my life, my work and my love. I aimed to become a Rockette, however (in retrospect) I am fortunate that this didn’t happen. I gave the idea of dance as a profession up, but continued to practice and exercise daily, and opened a very successful high-fashion business.
Given my background in dance, I am not surprised that I have taken up yoga, trapeze, and am performing Tango, even though I am into my 80’s! I have found that yoga is the best source for developing, maintaining and strengthening my core strength, balance and flexibility.
What’s in store next, who knows?
I practice yoga 4 to 5 times a week, missing a week here and there while I am performing Tango. When I miss a class, my body yells at me “Take me, take me, take me to yoga class!”
Many times, I am the oldest yogi in the class. Sometimes the instructor will say things like, “If Phyllis can do Peacock, you can do it!” Yoga is not just a pose, music is not just notes, dance is not just steps. The quality and beauty of the poses, the notes, and the steps, depends on the transition from one to the other. I move from day-to-day with joy, desire and openness – accepting what comes to me.
My life has been and still is a rich and rewarding journey, and I am so grateful for this.