When you reach a certain age – about 31, perhaps – just stretching to put on some slippers can be something of a workout.
Not for Barbara Sellers.
The Sheffield grandma, who turns 80 on Saturday, is officially one of the oldest yoga teachers in the UK.
She hasn’t let a hip replacement, severe arthritis or profound deafness stop her from taking classes in stretching, squatting and seeking inner peace through the power of meditation.
“Why do I keep going?” she ponders today. “Why shouldn’t I?
“Providing I’m careful I can still perform most of the basic moves. And much of yoga is concerned with breathing techniques and meditation – physical limitations shouldn’t inhibit you.”
The former beauty queen, of Crabtree Lane, Norwood, slips into spandex two evenings a week to teach the discipline at The LivingWell gym at the Hilton Hotel in Victoria Quays and at St Catherine’s Catholic Primary School in Norwood.
Among the 20 people in each of her groups are men and women barely a quarter her age.
“They keep turning up so they must be enjoying it,” says Barbara who was born in Walkley. “And that gives me great satisfaction. I just want other people to get as much out of yoga as I have over all these years.”
All these years started, almost by accident, back in the Seventies.
Barbara, a retired managing director of a metal alloy firm, had started attending classes after a friend suggested she would enjoy it – ‘if only for the glass of wine at the end’, she remembers.
“I took to it straight away. Then when the tutor fell ill one evening I was reluctantly ‘volunteered’ to step in and take the class. From then on I wanted to teach.”
To that end she took a college course and passed out with the British Wheel of Yoga Diploma in 1975. That means she can teach yoga anywhere in the world.
Since then, the discipline has helped her make hundreds of new friends, including one Ruby Wax. The American comedienne had a session with Barbara while staying in Sheffield in the early noughties and was so impressed invited her to showcase her methods on her BBC chat show. Barbara, typically modest, declined.
Nevertheless, she’s now even managed to persuade husband Jack, also 80, to give it a blast. “I thought if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” he says. “So I did, and now I attend regularly.”