How Old Is Too Old For Hatha Yoga?
Hatha Yoga teachers are asked variations of this question daily. At times, it seems as if there is a public perception that Hatha Yoga is only for the young and athletic. Many prospective students, with years of training, wonder if they are worthy enough to undergo a Yoga teacher training course. The most common reason, for feeling unworthy of going through Yoga certification, is aging.
Somehow the message of the Yogic path has become distorted, as we praise youth and physical prowess. There is nothing wrong with praising the young and athletic, but to obsess over aging is to miss the greatest gift of aging. To teach the next generation, to help the younger students avoid making mistakes, and to “pass the torch,” are the rewards of age.
A competent teacher is one who has traveled the Yogic path before, and passes knowledge to the next generation of practitioners. A seasoned practitioner, who becomes a Yoga teacher, can contribute to the collective needs of the class. Acquiring Yogic knowledge requires study, practice, and time. It is a fact that when time passes, we age.
No one is born with the knowledge required to teach Yoga sessions. This cultural obsession, with youthful appearance, undermines the potential of many experienced practitioners, who have the ability to safely teach Yoga classes. Experienced Yoga teachers are often good examples of a healthy lifestyle.
Hatha Yoga is a way of life that can be designed to meet the needs of any student, of any age, in any state of physical condition. Will a youthful athletic Yoga teacher have solid advice for students with heart diseases, cancer, neurological disorders, or musculoskeletal diseases? It is possible, but it requires more continuing education than life experience.
The point being: Life experience has much more value than public perception indicates. We cannot physically see life experience, but we can see youthful appearance. Determining the worth of a Yoga teacher, based upon youthful appearance, is a mistake. At the same time, students who begin their practice later in life, should be conscious that realistically knowing one’s limitations and strengths is the foundation of a safe Yoga practice.
In short, students of any age can practice Yoga or learn to become teachers. A Hatha yoga teacher does not have to possess the gift of sight, if he or she has a knowledgeable assistant making physical adjustments during class. If life’s circumstances make it so that we find ourselves in a wheelchair, should we give up? The answer has more to do with character and perseverance than potential.
© Copyright 2009 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications