Friend’s Second Act As Inspirational Yoga Master

I met my childhood BFF as a 10 year old when our dads, both coaches at Sterling High School, brought us together as honorary junior members of the school’s gymnastic club. So I was the only one not surprised when for her second act 45 years later, that friend became a yoga master.

In grade school, I envied Peggy because she could do splits while I struggled to bend and touch my toes. I fell on my head one too many times doing back flips. Eventually I switched to basketball, a sport more geared for my long-limb, lanky body type, while Peg went onto become a cheerleader for superstars like her boyfriend, the quarterback, whom she later married.

When she retired after teaching business for 35 years, Peg reinvented herself returning to a childhood love, a sort of gymnastics for adults, becoming a yoga master.

« I practiced yoga for 3 years and loved it and also enjoyed teaching, » she said,

« So soon as I retired, I combined my two passions and headed to California to train with the master. »

Now Bikram certified, she can go anywhere in the world and teach or practice in any Bikram studio.

Bikram Choudhry born in 1944 began practicing yoga at age four, founded Bikram College of Yoga in India from traditional hatha yoga techniques. Practicing the 26 Asanas (postures) helps maintain balance, flexibility and strength and also aids internal organs function. This hot yoga takes place in a room of 35–42 °C (95–108 °F) with a humidity of 40%.

Bikram’s grueling training program included 2 ninety minute yoga workout sessions, along with posture clinics, terminology and dialogue, instruction to correct the poses, as well as anatomy classes and learning about Indian culture. The intense training included sleep deprivation and shouting. Yet despite the rigors, the program attracts devotees from around the globe.

« When I took the 9-week training course, my roommate was from Austria, » Peg told me. « Of the four hundred students attending, 280 were from other parts of the world especially New Zealand and Australia. »

«Peg, I tried yoga, but I am so bad at it. I don’t have a flexible cell in my body, »

« Oh Patty, » she scolded, « Anyone can practice yoga. Go at your own speed. Never compare yourself to others. Leave your ego at the door. Most accidents in sport are ego driven. »

« Age doesn’t matter either, » she explained. « At school, the youngest student was 19; the oldest was in her sixties. Trainees were all shapes, sizes, ages and nationalities and about 60% women and 40% men. »

Now in her early sixties, Peggy leads an adventuresome life traveling cross country in their 5 wheeler from home base in the Chicago suburbs and spending 3 months in Naples, Florida where she teaches on a as needed basis. She has practiced her art in Singapore, Toronto and across the US.

During our lunch at a pizza place, I asked her to show me a position. She hopped up from the booth, squatted next to the table and balanced tiptoe on one leg, crossed her other leg at the knee and then bent to a crouch folding her hands in prayer position.

When I applauded, she laughed and said, « Oh Patty, that is nothing. Bikram does this pose and then hops around on one foot. »

In theory, practicing the 26 postures restores health and keeps one in balance. It must work because my dear old childhood friend looks half her age and doesn’t take any medication.

In Geneva years ago, I learned a beginner form of vinyasa yoga from my friend Rachael, a dance specialist, before she moved to Australia.

Recently, my daughter had me try on-line yoga instructions with Adriene.

Even though I am no closer to doing the splits than I was 50 years ago, Peggy inspired me to stick with a short daily workout.

Plus I added a new goal to my bucket list – Attend a hot yoga class led by my inspirational Bikram master buddy.

Comments

    1. Post
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      Pat McKinzie

      Yes she is inspiring. Instead of boomeranging back to my life, she really never left it even though we have been separated by 4,000 miles. Our childhood bond remains strong and when we reunite whenever we can and pick up right where we left off.

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      Pat McKinzie

      Yes my forever friend. Miss you. Maybe if I keep bending and stretching my arms will one day be long enough to reach across the miles to wrap Family in a big hug.

  1. Maria DeLanghe

    Great article Pat. And Peggy does look half her age! I wonder if a person can do yoga with a completely fused neck? Sounds like something we all need to learn!

    1. Peggy

      You absolutely can do yoga, Maria. Hot yoga in particular was designed to help heal the injured. Just be sure to let your instructor know about your surgery and he/she should be able to help you modify postures accordingly. Also, consider Yin yoga, all poses are done on the floor and are held for a few minutes each, applying moderate stress to the connective tissues while increasing circulation to your joints and spine. 🙏🏻

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      Pat McKinzie

      Like Peggy said I am sure too that you can do yoga and modify it to fit your abilities and needs. I think the breathing techniques alone help release pain of a bad spine. Go slow. Maybe start with Adriene’s workouts that are very gentle and simplified.

  2. Kathleen Pooler

    What a great story,Pat! It’s never too late to pursue our dreams and passion. I’ve tried yoga in the past but got discouraged. Peggy’s advice to “go at your own speed” sounds like a plan. You both look fabulously fit!

    1. Post
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      Pat McKinzie

      Thanks Kathy. Peggy is fit. I may look fit on the outside, but I am falling apart on the inside. But move it or lose it, so I will keep trying to stay limber. I was discouraged too when taking yoga class because everyone around me could bend and twist like pretzels. The great thing about doing yoga with an on-line instructor is that nobody can see you. When Adriene demonstrates postures that are too difficult for me, I just lay flat on my mat and breath.

  3. Lynne M. Spreen

    Thanks, Pat, now I want to commit to it…not hot yoga, that sounds like a bridge too far, but definitely baby steps. And your friend does look really young. Funny to see her standing on tiptoe to try to match your height 😉

    1. Peggy

      Go for it, Lynn, I promise you won’t regret it! And don’t be afraid of taking a hot yoga class; you’ll be able stretch safely due to your muscles and soft tissue being warm. Besides, where else can you simultaneously get a facial, cleansing detox, sauna, workout, plus a 60-minute moving meditation!
      p.s. Too funny you noticed the tiptoes—the photographer didn’t hear my request to not get our feet! teehee.

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      Pat McKinzie

      Lynne, I have been doing Adriene’s 30 day plan which takes you through a 25-35 minute workout daily. It seems to help alleviate back pain and I can do it at my own pace. Funny you should notice Peggy is on tiptoes in the photo. I seem to tower over so many friends. Viewers are just lucky that I had socks on, so no one can see my crooked toes.

  4. Rachael Jefferson-Buchanan

    Great story Pat. Your BFF is living proof of the benefits of yoga. Long may she enjoy this and share her expertise with others. Glad that I helped you a little too on your yoga journey – thanks for the mention 🤗❤️ xxx

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  5. Randy

    Pat, I enjoy reading your blog. This one on your bff, shows that dedication and sticking to your goals does pay off.

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  6. Bette

    To add to the positives effects of Yoga: i am taller after each 90 minutes work-out. Still short compared to others of course. 😉Loved that story, Pat! Thanks for sharing. Your old short team mate and friend Bette

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      Pat McKinzie

      Oh yes, yoga does make you stand taller. I bet it also helps with your low back pain. Always so great to hear from my itty, bitty bball buddy cher Bette.

  7. Sue

    What a great article, Pat, and Peggy certainly is an inspiration. The photos are amazing! I’ve never heard anyone who commits to any form of yoga say that they didn’t benefit physically and mentally from it. It’s a reminder to all of us to make self care a priority.

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      Pat McKinzie

      So true. Like any exercise it is so hard to get started but once you do you feel so much better. I wonder if there is such a thing as a yoga high?

  8. Tina Quick

    Great article and reminder that we are never too old to do most anything that will help us age with more grace and less pain. You have inspired me to get going on a yoga routine. Thanks for sharing.

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      Pat McKinzie

      As self-disciplined as you are, Tina, I bet you could get into yoga. It would help with all the aches and pains incurred from playing tennis, basketball, pickle ball and all the other sports you play . Besides I know you have to be more flexible than me. If nothing else it should be easier for you to touch your toes…your legs are not as long as mine. ha ha

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