Learning Yoga at 82

Aired on KQED Public Radio’s The California Report

(Catherine Borgeson/KQED)

(Catherine Borgeson/KQED)

In our first-person series “What’s Your Story?”, Californians talk about health in their lives and communities. One of the more unlikely yogis you’ll meet on the mat is 82-year-old Joseph Levine, who lives in a retirement community in Marin County.¬†Reporter:¬†Shuka Kalantari

“We have stereotypes, and whenever I would see a magazine or there would a little short about India on television. You would see these fellas, naked with ashes on their heads with legs around their head. And I always knew I couldn’t do that.

“Frankly when I began, I didn’t know whether I’d be able to do it. I looked around at these old ladies and I said, ‘By God I can’t put shame to my sex, I’ve got to make the effort!’ And I found it came on comparatively easily. Because it’s very gentle, very gentle.

“I’m always grateful that I come out of it alive, and that I can keep up. And slowly I’m building up my courage to wrap. To wrap one foot around another and not hold on to the chair for dear life is progress for me.

“My voice is a little bit gravely now. And I’m actually attending speech therapy session and I can’t bring the volume up to speak [loud.] But it doesn’t affect my singing. It’s like it comes from a different place, and I reach down and sing. But talking is harder. So I guess we have bodies within bodies, and they know what they can do given the opportunity.

“I’m drawing on resources within me that I don’t produce outside of this setting. But here, it’s kinda a warm up, and we don’t get to chanting until all of the switches on the dashboard are on as it were. And there’s an element of joy, when I can bring my voice and reach. I fly. It’s a high. And when I’m through with the entire session there’s a certain peacefulness. Of course lunch is coming, that always thrills me.”


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