Insights + interviews

In Conversation With Sarah Powell

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We interview 48-year-old yoga instructor Sarah Powell (SP) on her new ‘Yoga Gold: For The Wiser Yogi’ class, which targets those who are in their 40s and above.

AA: Hi Sarah, for starters could you tell us more about being a ‘wiser yogi’?

SP: Well, it refers to people who want to try yoga or may have tried it before but were right next to a girl in her twenties who could either do handstands or those fancy poses that you see all over Instagram. So a ‘wiser yogi’ is someone who wants to take it down a level and be a bit more thoughtful about the poses. We call it ‘wiser’ because we don’t want to say it’s for old people. It’s also for people who are in their thirties but aren’t able to get down on the floor while caring for their children because their hips hurt. It could also be for people who are returning from an injury as well. So it’s really just for those who want to go a bit slower and be a bit more thoughtful. We’re looking more at the quality of the poses rather than the quantity of the poses. One class may have 10 or 15 poses, but getting to do them really well is another thing.

AA: How did the idea of having a yoga class for this specific age group come about? What are some of your inspirations behind this?

SP: Well I’ve been teaching yoga for nearly eight years now and I’ve seen a lot of people my age holding themselves back from doing other activities because they can’t lift their legs into a car or something. They then miss out on all these other activities because they’re inflexible and are also intimidated by all the wonderful yoga pictures that they see. And yoga isn’t about the poses, it’s about the breath and how it makes you feel. As long as you’re feeling the stretch, it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting right down on your heel, it’s still the same thing.

AA: What do you think are some of the challenges ‘wiser yogis’ may face when they’re just starting to learn yoga?

SP: I think one of the biggest challenges is that they do feel intimidated when they come into a big room where they don’t know anybody, but we’re all about being a community. I’m the type of person that would stay behind and have a juice with someone after class and we’ll talk stuff through. It’s really about making friends as well. Going to the gym on your own can be a bit intimidating so we have a juice bar here which enables us to be a bit more social and that helps create a community.

AA: How long have you been practicing yoga and how do you think yoga has benefited you?

SP: I discovered the benefits of yoga about 10 years ago. I really wish I found yoga before I had my children; I have three boys they’re now 21, 19 and 16. I wish I’ve learnt it when they were younger because all the breath control has definitely made me a calm and more thoughtful mom. These days I don’t rush into decisions and I don’t get crossed so easily. I’m also pre-natal trained and I wish I had learnt yoga when I was in labour. I was quite overweight after I had my children, so although I won’t claim yoga as a weight-loss method, it has certainly kept me active and helped with my weight.

AA: Besides yoga, what other activities do you participate to stay active?

SP: To be honest, I’m just a mad yogi. I just love yoga. I’ve tried running in my time, but nothing’s quite the same as holding the breath in, and a lot of people think that yoga is just gentle stretching but it’s not. You can actually get very strong and muscular from it. I guess I’ve naturally had some flexibility but nothing like some of the girls in the class. I had to work a lot for it when I just started. You have to practice regularly on your own and maybe come into class twice a week; I now practice every day. Apart from yoga, I do go for walks and my kids keep me busy too, but yoga’s still my thing.

AA: How would you encourage more active agers to take up yoga in their free time?

SP: We put this class out specifically for those who want to try yoga but can now find something almost like a little shelter, or safe place where they know I’m definitely not going to make them do handstands or anything like that. And given that I’m someone in their age range, hopefully it can be more welcoming for them when we meet. If they really don’t feel comfortable, they can also do a couple of private lessons and maybe join the rest when they feel more confident. I think many of them lose confidence when they haven’t done something in a long time, but here we encourage community-building. Especially a lot of women who are not working, it can sometimes get really lonely, so yoga gives them the ability to make some time for themselves. Also, if you’ve got hip or arthritis problems, doing lunges and working into some of those joints with a bit of movement can help remove scar tissue and stiffness, it can also really help with osteoporosis too. Yoga does help as you are engaging the muscles and pulling on the burn and strengthening those burns.

AA: What are your aspirations for Yoga Gold and what do you hope to achieve with Yoga Gold?

SP: Well I’d love to see every woman in Yoga Gold who are in their 40s or 50s being able to touch their toes and enjoying it. The fact is that we’re not here to do all the fancy stuff but to be part of the team, meet some friends, stay for lunch after class and have a good community here. One of the most important things about yoga is the friendships that are forged, and to have a homely environment.

AA: Thank you Sarah for sharing.

SP: No problem at all!

Yoga Gold classes officially start on 17 April 2015 at 11.45am. For more information about the class please visit https://www.facebook.com/spaceandlightstudios.

 

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