I was talking to my friend Andrea about some of the women in a yoga class I teach regularly. They are in their 80’s. One will be 90 this year. They inspire me so much, keeping up with the 50, 60, and 70-year olds like it’s nothing.
“Sometimes I just want to stop class and take their picture,” I said to her. (Of course I don’t, because I am teaching and that would be disruptive).
Social media offers a plethora of yoga images. Lithe, young, bendy women…navigating poses not realistic for most. It’s enough to make people considering yoga run the other way. Frankly, as a woman approaching 50, with a cervical spine that no longer wants to do this and that, those Instagram-esque pics don’t do much for me. They are beautiful, but they don’t inspire me personally.
The students I teach do.
As we chitter chattered, Andrea said, “I’ll come take their pictures for you.”
Oh…forgot to mention, Andrea is a professional photographer.
“I am all about making women feel seen,” she said. “I would love to photograph them.”
During our conversation we went on to discuss how after a certain age, women in our society become invisible. We kicked it around a bit. We’re both around the same age and we both feel it already. How refreshing to look out toward women in their 80’s who are living vibrant lives?
We agreed to talk more about it. After our conversation, I googled images of seniors doing yoga, and found most of them to be quite generic. I knew Andrea could do better. I wanted photos to reflect who these women are. I wanted to be able to see the strength and wisdom that got them to their 80’s, and almost 90. Not happy, smiling, advertisement photos of old people, but beautiful women with rich life stories. My family recently moved into a new home and I wanted my love of yoga to be reflected there. When I imagined yoga art for the walls this is what I wanted to see.
We set a date.
I wouldn’t say I had to beg, but these ladies are not of the “selfie” generation. They did it, perhaps reluctantly at first, for me. I’ve been teaching them for two and a half years and they trust me. I also promised to gift them each an 8 x 10 of their favorite photo.
The day of the shoot came.
In no time, Andrea had them laughing and completely relaxed. It was magical. The weather was perfect. The women were troopers. They’d already done a full class with me, but stuck around another 90 minutes doing yoga poses for our session.
All three are such gorgeousness.
There is so much more to write on this subject of aging, and being seen, particularly in the yoga world. I plan on unpacking more of it here. But blogs are meant to be short, so I’ll wrap this one up.
Thank you Andrea Blakesberg for your friendship, your beautiful spirit and your generosity in sharing your gift. Thank you for getting chills when we first talked about it and for understanding my tears when I first saw the images you captured of these women I am privileged to know and to learn from.