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For yoga grannies, age is just a number

Aging gracefully. This seems the only description of a group of aged women and men who have taken up yoga and aerobics lessons in Eastlands to remain young.

It is a sight to behold. Aged over 70 years, the retired workers from various sectors look agile as they skip using a weather beaten rope shared among the 40 of them. Today, they are at Buruburu’s SOS Children’s grounds.

One of the team leaders barks out instructions and the members pair up as they demarcate their territories.

Second instruction

Before the second instruction, one of them, walks stoically to a heap of handbags strewn at the corner of one of the halls and easily finds her old hand bag.

She flushes out a bottle of water, takes two or three gulps and returns to the training field.

The pairs compete on the number of times each skips, and the glowing faces makes one think they are happy to relive their youthful years.

Next is the aerobics session. After the instructions, one wonders if their backs will be upto the task. We are mistaken. The session’s leader is Wambui Gacuruba, 70.

She stretches her right arm to touch the back of her left foot as her torso twists. For a few seconds, she holds to that position as the elderly women follow suit.

“Left right back foot!” she orders. The women change their position.

The instructions mean they use the left hand clockwise and stretch until they touch the back of their right foot.At more than 70 years, their agility and flexibility easily put teens to shame.

They belong to Diamond Aged Peoples Association (DAPA), a social networking group founded several years ago.

Interestingly, almost half of them have a daughter or son abroad and have visited them  with an intention of living there. But they came back.

“I would get sick more when I was abroad than here. I just could not fit,” says Margaret Githinji, 80, a mother of five.

She had joined her daughter in Geneva, Switzerland, three years after she retired from her teaching job in 1994. Her daughter was working at an international organization.

Her husband died in 1979. Her loneliness had been mitigated by her busy schedule at the private institution she taught for many years but 2005 came with new challenges.

Missing company

“Suddenly you have nowhere to go the whole day. Yes, you have some little money and food but then what next? poses Mrs Githinji. She couldn’t go to Murang’a County  where she was born and spent her early years.

“You find no one to consult on anything or share your feelings,” she explains.

Health became a common topic among them.

“Body aches were common. Luckily, some of us were teachers and could teach Physical Exercises,” says Philomena Njeri, a former teacher at Jogoo Road Primary School.

Gacuruba helps in yoga sessions, which she learnt after retiring from Uhuru Primary School. She mobilised 20 women and formed  Bodystretch for Radiant Health, a club she runs at Buru Buru Phase One.

“We train for an hour and a half when we  meet and this has  drastically reduced our illnesses,” says Gacuruba.

After serving for  15 years as a mid-wife in the city, Mary Nduta, 73, feels her aged husband, Peter Mwangi, is not enough company. “I need my fellow women to meet, talk and share.

“It is tiring to have only one person to talk to,” she says.Attempts to start businesses have been elusive and she cites Gikomba as a nightmare.

“The sly young men keep selling you stuff that does not sell. You end up buying a lot of dead stock,” says Miriam Nyangari, a former policewoman.