Yoga instructor Bette Calman may be 89, but she’s still bending over backwards to spread the benefits of the ancient Indian discipline…
The nimble grandmother can really pull some shapes and with her set hair and pearl earrings she looks as glamorous as Greta Garbo in a pink jumpsuit.
With 49 years of teaching under her belt, the Australian wonder is living proof that a lifetime’s dedication to yoga will keep you flexible as a rubber band.
While others her age complain about aches and pains, Mrs Calman focuses on getting tough balancing manoeuvres right.
Mrs Calman from Williamstown, southeast Australia, can do all the difficult moves including the agonising ‘peacock’ where the body is held in a horizontal position by the strength of the arms alone.
The bendy granny can also pull off a tricky raised ‘lotus’, ‘bridge’ and a headstand with ease.
She can also put her head between her knees and hold her ankles putting her inflexible grandchildren to shame.
‘I’m proof that if you keep at it, you’ll get there. I can do more now than I could 50 years ago,’ Mrs Calman said.
So when will she give it up?
‘You’re never too old. The body is a remarkable instrument.
‘It can stretch and stretch, and get better all the time. Forget age,’ said Mrs Calman, the author of three yoga books including one called Yoga for Arthritis.
‘Even a basic posture, or just going to a window and breathing deeply, can have big benefits.’
It’s that spirit that has made Mrs Calman a legend.
She was a pioneer of the regime in Australia in the 1950s, ran yoga centres for 33 years and made regular TV appearances in the 70s.
She thought she would take it easy in Melbourne, but was drawn back to teaching as yoga interest grew.
‘I came here to retire, but my daughter, Susie, who’s also a teacher, kept being pestered for fill-in teachers at her health centre. That was eight years ago,’ she said.
Mrs Calman teaches up to 11 classes a week with no sign of stopping and she keeps the ‘corpse’ posture strictly for her classes.
‘Yoga keeps you young,’ she said.
‘Never have I gone to a yoga class and wished I was somewhere else, because I know I’m going to come out feeling on the top of the world. There’ll always be yoga.’