The Mantra That Helped A Senior Yogi Embrace Her Golden Years With Confidence
When the oldest person in your yoga class is your instructor, the pressure is on to go the extra mile, but above all, affirms you’re on the right path to fitter golden years ahead. Senior guru, Lim Lay Gaik, is one such figure who credits yoga in her 50s to unconditional self-love, and discovering her fittest and youngest self despite the age.
“I am already 55 but I feel 25!” declares the radiant yoga guru, Lay Gaik, whose stunning figure and smooth skin belies her age. In a room full of young students, Lay Gaik, who’s almost always the oldest, is anything but, as she teaches how to flow, balance, and twist in an effortless rhythm.
Her advanced sequences and gravity-defying postures have earned her the playful moniker ‘#cikgubrutal’ from adoring yogis, a hint at her hardcore style. We had a chat with the guru on the topic of body image and ageing, and how yoga facilitates that positive relationship, for International Yoga Day.
How did you find your calling in yoga?
“My yoga journey began in 2000. I was an ‘accidental yoga’ practitioner – A friend recommended yoga to relief my chronic migraine, and guess what, it did help!
My love affair with yoga started from the very first class. From then on, I was a hooked and obtained my teacher training certification in 2005 and started teaching soon after. So I have been teaching for more than 15 years. Time flies when you love what you do and do what you love.”
In what way has yoga helped you age gracefully and kept you at your fittest?
“My vanity largely motivates me as I always want to look good and feel good, and not look like a ‘grandmother’ at 55. Although I am an active person, I find working out in the gym and high impact exercises a chore."
Yoga is an obvious fitness choice for me, and moreover, has proven anti-aging benefits. It’s a way of life, not a competition
I never need to compare myself to anyone, younger or older, stronger or weaker. Everyone's yoga journey is individual and different, so why the need to compare?”
Now more than ever in a hectic world, how has it proven a source of energy?
“I am much stronger now, physically and mentally. I was ‘short-fused’ and a ‘spoilt brat’ in my younger days. Yoga showed me the way to look at things in a calmer perspective. It helped to focus internally and let go of things and situations that don’t serve me.
On the physical side, if someone had told me that I will be able to do a headstand or arm balance carrying my entire body weight, I would have laughed and told them they’re crazy! In actual fact, we are stronger than what we think we are.
Yoga energises me mentally more than physically. Everyday I'm running all over KL and PJ teaching and meeting people for work and leisure. At the end of my ‘work’ day, I know that I have in some way helped someone achieve some level of his or her potential and that’s how yoga energises me in this very hectic world.”
What are the benefits on your mental and and spiritual wellbeing?
“Yoga has made me mentally stronger. The practice enabled me to be present and focused, enhance positive thoughts and emotions, and eliminate negative ones.”
I try to live by this mantra: ‘Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light'
As a senior yoga teacher, what values do you promote?
“To be humble always. I observed too much arrogance amongst some yoga teachers and yoga practitioners. This, in my view, contradicts the teachings of yoga.
To quote C.S. Lewis, ‘True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less’.”
Women have a very conflicted relationship with their bodies. How can yoga correct this?
“Yes, women are never entirely happy with their bodies. Sadly, I fall in that category too! By practising yoga, in addition to the benefits and advantages for our health, you’ll find it also plays a great role in increasing self-confidence. Without that, we allow fear to take over and conquer us.
And may I add, with constant yoga practice of asanas and stretches, our muscles are put to work, giving us a more toned appearance, which would help us to feel good and further boost our self-confidence. It’s ‘killing two birds with one stone’.”
See also: 6 Reasons To Get On The Mat This International Yoga Day
Yoga is always a good idea regardless of age because…
“It is an excellent all-in-one workout for our body and mind. One can adapt one’s practice to suit one’s individual level of fitness and mental awareness and all one needs is a yoga mat!”
You are not competing with anyone. Your practice is entirely your own. Bear in mind, it’s your personal yoga journey
Lastly, how has yoga changed your attitude towards ageing?
“Ageing happens whether we like it or not. It's the cycle of life. But I want to own every moment of my ‘golden years’ doing what I enjoy doing, and by being in denial isn't going to make me any younger so I want to stake my claim to life with gratitude. Yoga helps me to better embrace the process and live my life with no regrets.”
See also: #Fitspo Model Nana Al Haleq, On 9 Ways To Stay Loyal To Your Fitness Routine