First published on 19 October 2007 in The Times of India – Pune West Side Plus.
This is the unedited version….
It is practically impossible to meet Vijayanti Joshi or Sheelatai Bapat in the mornings. Both are also very reluctant to leave Pune on a holiday. Reason: they do not wish to leave their morning yoga group. Their feelings are rooted way beyond just exercising for good health.
Over 35 ladies meet at the residence of Mrs Asha Limaye off Prabhat Road for Yoga as she leads the group in performing a range of asanas. Everyone joins in as per their capabilities. Ashatai’s standing advice for anyone with complains is to proceed only after specialist opinion. At 80 years Sheela Bapat is an enthusiastic member along with youngsters like Priya Pathar and Sharda Maharao. Age barriers melt as the seniors motivate and guide the 25 year olds into being as flexible and proficient as them.
Ashatai had opened the doors of her home for yoga 25 years ago. Manjiri Satpute and Suhas Danait have been regulars for over 15 years now and hold almost maternal bonds with the group! Pushpa Tharkude misses the laughter and chatter when in the US and makes it a point to enquire about members and their activities from there via e-mails.
Over the years the group has matured into a vibrant support system for each other. Ladies freely share their experiences, fears, doubts, joys and sorrows. This secure platform allows them to express thoughts that may otherwise remain suppressed leading to frustration. Shivangi Girme and Roopa Lokhande have developed a strong friendship after meeting at this class. The warmth found here helped Roopa overcome sudden loneliness when her children left home for higher studies. Positive vibes have given Titiksha Kelkar total relief from her knee pain and high blood pressure.
Queries of all kinds always find a solution here ranging from PAN card issuance to products available in Bohri ali. Many a domestic crisis relating to sons/ daughter in laws/ maids have found a solution here.
The group makes it a point to celebrate each other’s birthdays and special occasions. The fourth Friday of every month is reserved for a breakfast together. Movies, picnics ensure the bonhomie continues outside the four walls as well. Ashatai has organised talks by guest speakers on topics besides health. Sudhatai Pendse one of the members has taught the ladies to read the ‘Geeta’ and they currently meet to read the ‘Dasbodha’. New or younger members are warmly taken aboard.
There’s lot to be learnt from these young ladies for all those making excuses for avoiding a workout. Go ahead and team up with a couple of friends for your indoor or outdoor exercises. There are tremendous benefits waiting to be gained from group work. Don’t take my word for it- discover for yourself! Stay fit together! Stay young!