Janice Lennard, who teaches yoga and pilates in California, spoke with ESSENCE.com about how yoga can assist in one's spiritual life.
Itâs not easy mastering the art of discipline and relaxation, but with passion and persistence 72-year-old Janice Lennard makes it seem effortless. The Yoga & Pilates instructor attributes her fit lifestyle to having studied and practiced yoga, ballet and pilates for over 65 years. Lennardâwho also has an extensive dance backgroundâ is quite generous with her time: She instructs classes seven days a week in Rancho Mirage, Calif. âI enjoy helping other people to relax and to get the benefits from yoga,â she told ESSENCE.com.
Lennardâwho appears to have found the key to the fountain of youthâhas released a series of fitness DVDs that focus on Ballet Barre, Mat Pilates and Yoga. The youthful-looking 72-year-old spoke with ESSENCE.com about the art of Yoga, hearing from God through the practice and how to embrace getting older.
Talk to us about the art of yoga and some of the things you make sure to inform your students about when youâre teaching?
Yoga is really a relaxing thing. What it does is it relaxes you; the mental part of itâto meâis so incredible. Thatâs one of the reasons I enjoy teaching so much: I enjoy helping other people to relax and to get the benefits from yoga. Even if they canât do a lot of the posesâa lot of the time in my classes I donât do a lot of balancing poses, because some of the classes include older people and they canât do those poses. So we do regular standing poses. I do that for about a half an hour and then we go on the floor and do a lot of stretching. I tell my students, make sure to just do what you can do, when you feel you canât do something, just relax and wait and catch up with us later on in the classâdonât try and do crazy things because you donât want to get hurt.
How has yoga assisted you in your spiritual life? Do you tend to hear from God easier through yoga?
Yes, sure. I do think spirituality and yoga is connected. The spirituality of it is really nice, just the relaxation of yoga helps the spiritual part of the brain to relax. Sometimes by myself, when Iâm at home, I can sit and just relax and just start thinking about certain thingsâjust telling myself to relax and breatheâyou know breathing is very important, tooâbreathing in and out through your noseânot through your mouth, through the nose from the whole bodyâfrom the stomach all the way up to the chest, it tends to relax the brain and your mind, and through this, you get that spiritual thing.
How does yoga help you to embrace 72?
I think it just helps me to grow old gracefully. The mind relaxes, and it helps you accept who you are and what you can do. Thatâs the basic thing I tell my students in class: When youâre doing yoga, you should not strive to do exactly what the instructor is telling you to do; you should instead do it to the best of your ability.
What do you love most about getting older?
As you get older, you learn more. You tend to accept who you are and what you can and can not do instead of trying to do what everyone else is doing and trying to kill yourself to do everything.
What are some of your secrets to staying disciplined?
Write down what you do everyday, and then look at the list and then basically cut down on some things. Just do a little bit at a time instead of rushing around and trying to do everything. Or in between things, just sit down, relax and breatheâeven if itâs for only five minutes, youâll feel better.
What words of wisdom have you learned over the years that you live by?
Patience. Just take everything a day at a time. Donât try to race your mind and do too much at one time. This is very serious; just take it easy. When I come home from my classes sometimes I just sit on the bed and my husband is usually watching soccer, and I watch soccer with him and it relaxes me. Watching the game helps to clear my mind of everything thatâs going on.
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