This was first published in the Jan./Feb. 2023 issue of Escapees Magazine by Theresé Julo.
“I didn’t struggle to put on my socks!” That was Rob’s ah-ha moment. Mike’s ah-ha moment came while replacing his RV awnings. But how did these two regular guys get there? Rob and Mike are two Escapees RV Club members who, reluctantly, tried yoga at the 2021 Florida Winter Home Base Hangout.
Both had heard about the health benefits of yoga such as increased strength, flexibility, balance and stress relief. But, what surprised them most was how yoga benefited their RV life, too.
They saw yoga classes going on at the gym, and they were encouraged to try yoga by their wives and doctors. They had seen the photos of the crazy yoga poses on social media, and they knew other guys that did it, but they weren’t sold on it. And now, yoga was being offered right outside their camper doors at the Florida Home Base three days per week. There was no way to get out of it.
None of their previous excuses, such as they were going to turn into pretzels, was going to hold up. There would be other guys in class, so, at least, there would be strength in numbers. The other guys were RVers, too, and they would just stay in the back of the class and try not to be noticed.
They came to their first class cautiously. Surprisingly, they weren’t total newbies! They had learned many of the stretches back in the days of playing soccer, football, basketball and other sports. Who knew that these were really yoga poses?
Both Mike and Rob retired early to enjoy RV life and participate in more outdoor activities like biking, hiking, kayaking and pickle ball. With a few birthdays in their rear-view mirrors, these activities were not as easy as they used to be. Even though they are both fit, they couldn’t escape the normal aging processes we all endure.
As we age, our bodies dehydrate and stiffen. Our tissues begin to lose their moisture content, causing them to be less supple, and increasing the risk of soreness and injury. You have probably noticed this change in your own skin.
A few weeks later, they told me they were feeling the benefits of yoga in everyday RV life, and laughed at the realization that their preconceived notions about yoga were just myths after all. They were becoming RV yogis.
What about those ah-ha moments?
The morning Rob announced that he didn’t struggle to put on his socks, he received a round of high fives from his classmates. He shared what a big deal this was for him. He said, “I was starting to get some persistent aches in my hips, hamstrings and feet. I’ve had chronic foot pain. Now all these areas were improving.
“I never thought I would be able to see the flexibility benefits of yoga so quickly. The meditation part of class helps me relieve stress,” he added. “The chair yoga classes have given me a great awareness of my posture, sitting and standing properly for better spine health. I didn’t think it was something I could start later in life and continue for the rest of my life. Now I realize that is a myth. Grab your guy friends and get them to a yoga class!”
As for Mike, he definitely wasn’t relishing the task of replacing his RV awnings, and he was thankful that some friends helped. But afterwards, he told me, “During the job, I noticed it was not as difficult to lift, bend, twist or climb as it had been before. My core was tighter, my arms stronger and my hamstrings were looser.”
Over a campfire a few nights later, I asked both men how they felt yoga helps RVers specifically. Rob said, “I do most of the heavy lifting on the outside of the rig. I’m an Escapees event host. Hosting activities involves a lot of set-ups and break-downs for events and chopping firewood for campfires. I’m always carrying and lifting things, getting out or putting away supplies in the storage bays, sitting a lot at the computer. Yoga is helping me keep my muscular strength, tighten my core to protect my lower back and helping my overall flexibility.”
“It’s easy to access,” he added, “and it’s fun in a group when you’re laughing with each other and cheering each other on. I was surprised at the class age ranges. People in their 40s to 80s came. The older folks were more flexible than I. My mom always said, ‘motion is lotion,’ and ‘medications can’t cure everything.’ Now, I know what she meant. I was surprised that poses can be modified for people with illnesses and injuries. Poses can also be deepened for folks with more experience. You don’t need a lot of space or equipment and I’m incorporating stretches into my outdoor activities.”
“We did so many different varieties of classes: chair yoga, mat yoga, bike yoga and couples’ yoga. It was challenging in a good way. I felt a sense of accomplishment being able to touch my toes again and fully stretch out,” he concluded.
Re-establish Your Fitness Routine
Mike said, “Doing yoga three times a week helped me re-establish a fitness routine that I was lacking since starting to RV full-time. I’m still tight in areas, and I know if I stick with it, I’ll keep improving. I used to play soccer and apply the same methodology that performance improves with practice. Now, I watch my posture. I catch myself if I am slouching. I don’t round my shoulders forward. I know how to roll them back and down to improve my posture. I’m stronger, my core seems tighter, and my tight hamstrings feel a little more loose. I confess I’m a lazy bum by nature, and RV life can be very sedentary. I have to be careful not to sit too long at the computer and let my muscles get lazy. I learned deep breathing techniques that reduce stress and tension while driving in crazy traffic.”
“The mental and health benefits are real,” he said. “You will feel better, breathe better, get stronger and your flexibility and balance will improve. RV life offers a great sense of community, and taking yoga classes together provides for an even deeper community. I didn’t think it was something I could start later in life and continue for the rest of my life. Now I realize that is a myth. Grab your guy friends and get them to a yoga class!”
We had a chance to reminisce about their early experiences with yoga at the 61st Escapade. Since the Homebase event, they’ve fallen off the yoga wagon a few times. However, they got right back on after noticing how tight their muscles were getting and finding that the physical demands of RVing were getting harder. Yoga classes are offered at many Escapees and Xscapers events. Take Mike’s advice and grab your friends and go. After all, it is just focused movement paired with breathing, and nobody will turn into a pretzel.
Theresé Julo is a full-time RVer, a traveling yoga and meditation teacher, as well as the Escapees RV Club’s former Hangouts Director. Prior to being Hangouts Director, she hosted yoga Hangouts. Theresé has helped many RVers stay healthy on the road through her yoga workshops and seminars during Escapees and Xscapers events. You can find her at www.thetrippingyogi.com.
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