For some reason, it seems like birthday season, with a bunch of birthdays among our studio regulars these days. We don’t celebrate them with birthday candles or cake, but instead with exclamations of surprise. The refrain is usually: “You look so much younger than that!”
People say all the time that age is just a number, but in the Bikram world, it becomes so true. When people look so healthy, the number signifies more a station in life than a physical marker. It’s not that a Bikram practice stops the aging process, but it gives it an amazing amount of grace. The physical benefits, the mental benefits — not to mention the detoxifying sweat — turn what can seem like a downward slide into a gentler path.
Just look at our teachers, who all but defy age. It is amazing to learn their ages, because they seem so ageless. When I learned one of them is about to turn 40, it nearly knocked me backwards. The older they are, it means only that they have more great stories to tell, led by the incomparable Georgia. Who would not want to be Georgia, and have such boundless energy, in their 60s?
For me, it’s an inspiration, a toehold in life that can seem like it’s flying by. Sure, much of it is physical. It’s easier to feel proud of your experience when you also feel good physically. Being strong is a great defense against what age tries to chip away. But it is also so inspiring to share the collective energy and effort of such a fascinating range of people in our classes.
When I started, I felt self-conscious that I was older than many of the people in the room, until I found out that many of them were actually my age or older. Eventually, I stopped thinking about age at all, the class seeming more like a tapestry of people with different backgrounds, experiences.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had a wonderful take on age:
For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day
So when it comes time for a birthday, we can honestly say, “You look great.” For any age.