In a March 1, 2010, New York Times article,  “Old Age, From Youth’s Narrow Prism,” Marc E Agronin, MD, examines our conceptions (and misconceptions) about old age. He’s often surprised when his geriatric patients contradict his expectations.

He writes, “All of us lapse into such mistaken impressions of old age from time to time. It stems in part from an age-centered perspective, in which we view our own age as the most normal of times, the way all life should be. At 18 the 50-year-olds may seem ancient, but at 50 we are apt to say the same about the 80-year-olds.”

Senior yoga classes

Many studios offer yoga classes targeted at older students, such as “senior yoga” or “yoga for 55+.” I can imagine the rationale for such classes, but age doesn’t always correlate with asana ability. In my own teaching, I’ve seen students in their 50s and 60s who are undoubtedly more fit, coordinated, and aligned than their decades-younger classmates. While my 20-something students might be able to shoot hoops or run a mile faster, that doesn’t mean they can perform asanas “better.”

The real determinants of asana class level are experience level, innate physical fitness, and eagerness to learn. Age matters most at the extremities, if students are kids or geriatric patients. For the vast pool in between, beginner classes, gentle classes, restorative classes, and pre- and post-natal classes make sense. But I’m not convinced about 55+ classes (and I suspect that the health-conscious, youth-conscious Baby Boomers would agree!).

“Mature” Olympians in the 2010 Winter Games

On the topic of age, I was impressed by the stellar performances by Olympians in their 30s and even 40s at the 2010 Winter Games. All athletes listed below still await birthdays and will go up a year in 2010:

  • Men’s Ice Hockey (gold): Martin Brodeur, 37; Scott Niedermayer, 36
  • Pairs figure skaters (gold): Xue Shen, 31; Hongbo Zhao, 36
  • Men’s Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom (gold): Jasey Jay Anderson, 34
  • Ladies’ Snowboard Cross (gold): Maelle Ricker, 31
  • Men’s Snowboard Cross (gold): Seth Wescott, 33
  • Men’s Curling (gold): Kevin Martin, 43
  • Ladies’ Curling (gold and silver): Anette Norberg, 43, and Cheryl Bernard, 43

I bet I’m missing other prime examples, but you get the picture.

Image: Animated TV