Susan, 77, Delavan
How long have you been practicing yoga?
How often do you currently practice?
Three days a week. I’d like to do more. I’d like to get started at home in between the classes. One thing I’ve become more conscious of is checking myself in the pose. You know, are my arms bent when they’re supposed to be straight? Is my head where it supposed to be? You know, those kinds of things. I’m thinking more about getting the pose right. I can feel it now too. I mean, if I’m not positioned just right. I’m more conscious of those kinds of things. I think I’m mentally starting to say “OK, let’s do a check now. Am I doing it right?” But I can also feel if I’m not doing it right.
What was it that made you want to try yoga for your first time?
When I went through pulmonary rehab for COPD, one of the therapists said “Yoga is one of the things we recommend to improve people’s breathing. You might want to try it,“ Before I started, I asked my GP, my pulmonologist, my cardiologist, all of them, “Do you think this would be a good thing for me?“ And they all said “Oh that would be wonderful!“
Have you gone through periods of time without practicing yoga since you started?
Yes I was out of town for a week.
How did it feel when you came back? I felt good. I kind of thought after the first day of yoga that I would be like “Oh wow! This is really great. I feel so different. I feel so wonderful. I didn’t. But I felt very positive about it, because I was very apprehensive about whether I could do it or not. And after the first class I said “I can do this. This is something I can do.“
I’m generally a very positive person. One thing I like about yoga is it’s always working toward the positive. Toward reducing pain for people who have pain, for improving your balance, your flexibility, strength, your breathing, your awareness. It’s always working toward that positive, and I like that.
Is your COPD the main reason that you started?
Well, it was and it wasn’t. It was, my balance has gotten really bad over the years, to the point where I worried about having a fall. I used to be able to just hop up on a chair and whip something off the shelf. I can’t do that anymore. My balance is too poor. I really lost a lot of flexibility and strength, and I really wanted to build those up. Now after just seven months I can notice a difference in my flexibility. Not a lot, but a little bit. But I’m patient. Now that I don’t have a lot of time left, I’m patient (laughs). When I was young and had all the time in the world I was always impatient about everything. I think it’s like gaining weight. It happens so gradually when people gain weight that they don’t realize the problem that’s developing. And then when they do realize it, they want to immediately lose all that weight. And they can’t. It took them a long time to gain the weight and now it’s going to take them a long time to lose it. So I think it’s the same way with my strength and my flexibility. I think to myself, “Just be patient. Just keep doing it. It’ll come.“ if you do it any other way it’s just a quick fix and it’s not a lasting change. So I’m very patient, but I do enjoy it. Some days it’s a challenge for me. Every day I’m trying to do the poses better. I’m trying to breathe better. I’m trying to get the two of them to work together. I’d like to be able to get to the point where I can do the poses and do the breathing right without having to stop and think about it..