Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Guest Post by YD Student Judy Haladay

“If yoga is so great, why don’t you do it?” So said my husband after I suggested he try yoga to alleviate the chronic pain in his back from sitting at a desk all day. He was right, why didn’t I practice? I had tried a few classes here and there but never stuck to it. To rectify the situation, I found a semi-private class for both of us. Our instructor, Leslie Parker, is an amazing teacher who has a lot of patience and a great sense of humour (necessary to deal with my husband). She also takes alignment very seriously. We practiced with her for a year before we felt ready for a full class. Once again we were fortunate in our teacher. Cecily Milne has an uncanny ability to say the perfect thing to help you become aware of your body in space, so that your practice is the best it can be. We both became stronger, more balanced, and more flexible. As an added bonus, my husband’s back got better. Being in our late fifties, we were extremely pleased with our progress and our new healthier bodies.

After three years of practice with these excellent yogis, I assumed all yoga teachers were as proficient – alas, it is not so. When I ventured out to other classes, I was surprised at how little care some teachers take to ensure their students are practicing safely. As a result, I was seriously injured. I also heard from a few friends of my vintage that they had been hurt when they tried yoga at the urging of their doctors. Clearly I needed to learn more to keep myself safe. I also realized there is a need for yoga classes with a focus on older bodies. 

At 61, I began a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training course. While I enjoyed the yoga philosophy and the meditation classes, I found the anatomy and alignment courses sections wanting. I completed the program but did not feel confident to teach. Luckily my former teacher, Cecily Milne, was beginning a new training course, Yoga Detour, with her colleague, Kathryn Bruni Young. I signed up and have not been disappointed. We are learning so much about the building blocks necessary to approach each pose with strength and confidence. We are also learning that each pose should not be approached as if written in stone. Bodies are as individual as personalities and should be treated as such. Yoga is a personal practice that must be suited to each practitioner. 

Although I am the oldest woman in the class by several years, I have felt welcomed by both Cecily and Kathryn and by the other students. Everyone in the Yoga Detour training has different backgrounds in yoga and is given the opportunity to share their knowledge, making for a richer experience. I know that when I complete the course, I will be more confident as a teacher and I will be better able to meet the needs of the individuals in my class. 

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Did you know that our YD Summer Intensive Teacher Training is now available in an A la Carte Format?  That means you can join in for individual components of the course without having to register for an entire TT! You could enjoy a Yoga Detour taste test, a glimpse into the anatomy of yoga, an afternoon session with a YD Movement Mentor, or a day with one of our other exemplary faculty members...take a look at the full list of offerings here