‘How my first yoga class ever changed my life over 50’
-Feb 19, Jenny Paul, Fitness -
If you’re considering a midlife makeover then Lucy Blenkinsopp’s story will certainly give you some inspiration. After trying yoga for the first time at the age of 49 she’s now a certified yoga teacher and proof, were it needed, that life gets better over 50.
Lucy Blenkinsopp is certainly all that embodies being fabulous over fifty. She’s full of energy and positivity, with a lust for life that’s as infectious as it is inspiring.
The British Bikram Yoga teacher and health coach took her first ever yoga class at 49 and now at 56 is teaching others and posting videos on Instagram that give yogis of all ages a run for their money.
We are all for being fabulous at every age, and so wanted to pick Lucy’s brains and find out her best wellness tips.
What was your journey to becoming a Bikram Yoga teacher? What inspired you to take your first class? How did it happen, then what made you decide to go on to teach?
In 2009 I was visiting my old friend in Denver, Colarado and she took me to a Thermal Yoga class, which I absolutely loved, so much so, that when I returned to UK I tried to find a hot yoga class. I then discovered that Bikram Yoga was a type of yoga that was growing in popularity and was super hot and humid but sadly the nearest studio was one hour away.
Thankfully, we moved soon after to Brighton where there was a Bikram Studio and my first class it was LOVE. It was a love so strong, it became an addiction. I decided on that first class that I wanted to become a teacher and 2 years later in 2011 I went to LA to do the 9 week intensive training with Bikram. (And that is a whole other story… menopause and learning fifty six pages of A4 sized dialogue was a challenge!).
Yoga every day is one of your five non-negotiable habits what is so special about yoga as far as you’re concerned?
When I first started yoga it was all about gaining flexibility, strength and just the detox that Bikram gives you. Bikram is not for everyone, but it attracts a certain type of personality (normally the naughty ones) who need the discipline and the dynamic beat of the class.
When we moved to Nice in France, the Bikram studio there didn’t really fulfil my needs and so I started a home practice. This started with committing to sit on my mat for ten minutes every morning and see where that led me. Sometimes it was just that, and other days it turned into a wonderful hour of moving, stretching, twisting my body. But what ever happened on that mat, how ever long I stayed, I committed to be happy with the outcome and to practise non-judgment. I’ve now had a home practise six days a week for three years and I plan on continuing until the very end.
What are the other healthy habits and can you explain a bit behind why/ how you came up with them?
Well, I can’t give away all my secrets, but I am serious about habits and how they can help form a happy, healthy, lifestyle. One of my habits is self love which can be anything from dry brushing your body or meditating. I came up with this habit when my husband used to travel from Nice to London every week and I was home alone Monday to Friday.
I found that I wasn’t bothering to cook or prepare myself a meal. But when I put in place the habit of self love I began to cook and prepared a rainbow meal for myself, using the freshest of ingredients and sat down at the table and ate and enjoyed the process, after a very short while it became a habit of its own and now eating a rainbow is one of my five non-negotiable habits which I do without question or thought – self love is still one of my five but this category doesn’t include eating anymore as my rainbow became so important it became its own category. That’s the beauty of habits.
Is this also your advice for women who are in a health/ fitness/ wellness slump? Do you have any other secret wellness weapons up your sleeve to be fabulous over fifty, (Adaptogens? Diet? Meditation?) …
My secret weapon is to make habits, it takes away the decision making progress and saves time and energy. One of the easiest ways to make and keep a habit is to piggy back one habit onto another. I got this idea from Gretchen Rubin who I love and she said that when you have a shower (which is already a habit for most people) you think of the shower cubicle as your happiness booth – and as you step into the booth you think that you are stepping into happiness, the shower is showering you with happiness, you give yourself positive affirmations and it can be a way of introducing meditation in to a daily practice for those that can’t seem to find the time. So you are piggy backing this new habit on to a habit that you already have – so it’s so easy – the shower, now becomes your happiness booth or your meditation room and BOOM you have the habit of self love already in place!
That’s brilliant. What kind of diet do you eat each day and did what you eat change once you started your yoga journey?
When I started on my Bikram Yoga journey my diet naturally changed. I drank more water and craved healthy foods. Now that I am trained as a Health Coach I am passionate about finding the right foods that suit you and your lifestyle. I believe that everyone is different and there is not one type of diet that suits everyone.
You just need to find what suits you make it part of your lifestyle and then you can forget about dieting, calories and your unhealthy cravings will disappear. I personally don’t like to have too many rules and I don’t like to label myself in what I eat or don’t eat. I think the quality of food that we eat is important as is the quality of the soil it was grown in. I believe if you just start by eating a rainbow, you will be on a good path. Balance is key!
You always seem so happy and positive. Do you have any happiness/ positivity tips?
Oh yes, as a Health Coach, I have a million. But the one that comes to the forefront of my mind is to know yourself. I mean really know yourself and know your Truth. There are a million tests you can do and really understand yourself – are you an owl or a lark, what is your Myers Briggs, what is your Language of Love etc etc… I think doing Morning Pages is a great tool to know your truth. Julia Cameron wrote a book called The Artists Way, and basically she says to write 3 x A4 sheets everyday of thoughts or just words and see what comes up… it is a great way to funnel your thoughts and feelings and to come up with your truth and to really know yourself. I love this tool and do this regularly. But also I just have to say that gratitude plays a big part in my life and before I go to sleep everynight and every morning I say my gratitudes… I find the more grateful I am, the more I have.
What’s your advice for women who are considering taking up Bikram or any other type of yoga but are feeling a bit nervous at the thought of being in a class full of bendy toned twenty something’s – or is yoga for everybody at every age?
If I had a dollar or a pound for everytime that someone said they weren’t flexible enough to do yoga I would be rich! Yes, absolutely Bikram Yoga is for everyone, every shape, age and ability. There is never any judgment. No one knows what sort of day, week, year anyone has had, we do not know what injuries and disabilities people are walking into a studio with, there is never any judgement.
In Bikram you generally hardly notice who is standing beside you because we teach just to look at your eyes in the mirror so it becomes a standing open eye meditation. Every class is different and every day is different. Bikram is a beginner’s yoga, its suits everyone. There is no destination in yoga it’s only about the journey. I also have some great fifteen minute sequences that I share on Skype for my beginners who want to home practice.
What is your TOP TIP for being fabulous over 50?
My top tip is to remember that ageing is a privilege not granted to all. Life isn’t an arch – there needn’t be a point where we peak. Yes we may peak in energy or in income but personally we don’t need to peak. I think life is in incline – there is always something new to learn and it’s important to keep learning, developing and growing. I like to continually challenge myself, not on bucket list type challenges (for example, seeing the 7 wonders, or going in a hot air balloon) but daily / weekly challenges that give me new perspective and challenge my thinking.
Here’s some yoga poses you can do at your desk. Did you know that meditating can help combat the menopause? And if you want to ease yourself into yoga, why not try Jennifer Aniston’s ten minute happiness workout? Or if yoga’s not for you, how about trying an infrared barre class?
Are you fabulous over fifty and busy rocking your age? Let us know your favourite wellness tips in the comments below. And if you’ve got a question for Lucy, message her on her Instagram and she would be happy to help.