I am always in awe of the older yogis that practice on the regular. Most often, it’s part of their routine. It’s an opportunity to stay active, social and healthy. Some have been practicing for years, others discovered it after retirement. As with any yogi, it’s a way of life.
I knew I wanted to shadow a retired yogi as part of my photo essay. I also knew I wanted to shadow a couple that practice together. This one crosses two off my wish list!
I reached out to Pure Yoga to see who they thought might make an interesting yogi to shadow. I explained who I was looking for and Ernie and Patricia came to their minds instantly! Both retired, Ernie and Patricia spend their days pottering around their home in Chelsea, QC, making delicious home-cooked meals, collecting beautiful antiques and driving into Ottawa every few days for a yoga class. Ernie and Patricia have been together for almost 51 years.
Part of their morning ritual before class includes a stop off at the Bagel Shop on Wellington, for a coffee and some time reading the paper together.
What brought you to your first yoga class?
I find that yoga is complementary to pilates which I have taught for many years. Since our daughter, Sarah, and I had also enjoyed yoga, we got Ernie to come to a hot class and he was hooked. We’ve been enjoying it ever since.
How has yoga brought you closer as a couple?
The classes help us enjoy a happy, healthy and flexible life as well as each others company.
What do you enjoy most about yoga?
We enjoy the variety of classes done in the hot room, the competent instructors, and the friendly staff. The members make it a very pleasant place to be, so much so that when we’re not able to attend a class, we miss it.
I noticed that you don’t practice next to each other in the studio. Why?
Ernie likes to be at the back of the room because he can follow the yogis movements around him when he is not able to see or hear the instructor. We used to practice next to each other, but we found it to be too distracting & disruptive (too much closeness — after all the years we’ve been together, and knowing each other as well as we do) a little space can bring us closer.
Ernie and Patricia are some of the kindest souls I’ve ever met. They insisted I sit for lunch with them, and I was treated to one heck of a feast. Fresh fish, herbs from the garden and a beautiful glass of red wine.
I sat and observed how they told stories, of distant memories from their past together, how they built their house, bit by bit, piece by piece. Each tea cup, each piece of furniture or art tells a story of their time together. Fifty-one years later, they still poke fun at one another, laugh at each other’s jokes and very evidently love each other.
Whether you practice alone or with someone special in your life, this story really shows us that yoga is both an individual journey and a union of likeminded souls. Even when you’ve spent 51 years together, it’s important to take time for yourself to check in, tune out the mental chatter, and be open to whatever unfolds on your mat.
Until next time, see you on your mat, friends xo
Ashley Notley is a teacher at Pure Yoga Ottawa, and when she’s not teaching, she’s creating beautiful memories for married couples at Ashley Notley Photography https://ashleynotley.com/