Phyllis S.

As Young As You Feel
I have Kripalu to thank for challenging me and encouraging me to stick with yoga.

My motto is “Don’t wait to expire!” Age has never meant anything to me, and at 88, I’m proof that it’s never too late to learn something new. Five years ago, I was inspired to learn how to dance the tango, and now I perform it regularly with my 76-year-old partner. And at age 84, I picked up yoga, since I knew it would help me maintain the balance, core strength, and elasticity I need to continue dancing.

I have Kripalu to thank for challenging me and encouraging me to stick with yoga. I made my first visit with my sister, who was 91 at the time. We loved that it was near Tanglewood, where we’d gone as children every summer with our parents. The ambience was magnificent, and it was incredible to have everything at our fingertips. Kripalu’s variety of offerings is tremendous, and there’s something for everyone: I saw very young kids and older people doing yoga, meditation, and all kinds of spirituality practices.

As a ballet dancer when I was younger, I learned to enjoy the challenges of working hard at something, which I apply to yoga. I’m usually the oldest one in my yoga class, and I often hear, “If Phyllis can do it, anyone can.”

I like how older people can take yoga and progress at their own speed. Look at me: I have arthritis in my spine but I can do a full backbend. Your body is like an engine, and if you don’t run the engine, it gives out. Listen to your body—it tells you everything.

Today, I never leave my house without doing yoga first. My body remembers the movements, even better than my brain does. I do full splits on both sides every day. I love Triangle—it’s a beautiful pose. And I always do Pigeon.

It’s unusual for someone in their eighties to be so active. But I think these things are always dormant in your body, and at a certain time, your body gives birth to them. I have no idea where my desire for tango and yoga came from, but it’s here—and the journey has been marvelous.

I’m close to 90 and every morning, I face a challenge: My back is sore, a hip is tight. But I don’t think about that. It’s the journey that matters. Still, I really want to be able to do a handstand and full Lotus. One day, I’ll get there.

—Phyllis S., Los Angeles, California