Cork granny: Why I learned how to stand on my head before I turned 67

The homeless crisis was the inspiration behind this woman’s novel fundraiser, writes IRENE HALPIN LONG
Cork granny: Why I learned how to stand on my head before I turned 67

Yogini Granny Eleanor Buckley who lives in Crosshaven.

CROSSHAVEN-based Eleanor Buckley, aka, Yogini Granny, literally stood on her head recently, on the eve of her birthday - the day before she turned 67 years old.

The goal? To raise funds for The Peter McVerry Trust.

The Crosshaven-based yogini (a female master practitioner of yoga) wanted to combine her love and passion for yoga with fund-raising for a cause that she believes in.

Eleanor said: “The focus at Peter McVerry Trust is Housing First. Everyone deserves to be offered a home and shelter. It is a basic need.”

Eleanor is originally from Cork city, and she recalled her own childhood and having a roof over her head.

“The Cork Corporation supported my parents to buy a home. I feel social shame as a Granny that I now live in a society where so many people are left homeless, when Ireland is such a wealthy nation.

“Peter McVerry Trust have battled for years to address the homelessness crisis in our country. They work tirelessly in the areas of early intervention to help prevent homelessness and work to prevent homelessness and destroy the stigma surrounding it.”

Eleanor’s passion to help support the work of the Peter McVerry Trust and the fact that the Trust have recently opened an office in Cork City motivated her to focus on her goal of standing on her head.

Eleanor Buckley with Fabiola Reyes and Ghislain Lumine of Sacred Body Studio in Douglas.
Eleanor Buckley with Fabiola Reyes and Ghislain Lumine of Sacred Body Studio in Douglas.

Yogini Granny’s yoga journey began in March, 2018, when she started attending yoga classes at Sacred Body Studio, Douglas, run by Fabiola Reyes and Ghislain Lumine. Eleanor fell in love with yoga.

She said: “Yoga has enhanced all aspects of my life; physically, mentally and spiritually. Because I have a background in nursing in the community as a Public Health Nurse, I am very aware that older people must leave their homes because of environmental pressures due to lack of mobility and flexibility. I started to question, how many of us could avoid or extend or need for 24-hour care if we maintained our mobility and flexibility?”

Yoga for Eleanor became more than just a hobby during retirement. In June, 2018, Fabiola at Sacred Body Studio announced that she was commencing a 200 hours’ Yoga Teacher Training Course in September, 2018. Eleanor felt the urge to want to improve her yoga skills and approached Fabiola about applying for a spot on the course.

Eleanor said: “I wanted to do the course for my own personal benefit and to share yoga with my family and friends. Because of my age and having just four months yoga experience, I really did not expect I would be offered a place.”

Yogini Granny thrived as she undertook her yoga teacher training which she completed in June, 2019. Because of Covid restrictions, she completed her training at home via online learning.

Yogini Granny advocates for older people and strongly believes that age should not stand in anyone’s way when it comes to reaching your individual potential and working towards personal goals. She was encouraged by Fabiola and Ghislain at Sacred Body Studio.

Eleanor said: “I did not expect to reach the level I have, but for the ethos of Sacred Body Studio. They did not ask my date of birth on joining yoga classes in their yoga studio. They simply asked for a health profile. Their classes encourage all levels of flexibility to gain more flexibility and mobility.”

Eleanor is a firm believer that improving flexibility and mobility are key to older people living independently for longer. The beauty of yoga practise is that the individual practising yoga can take their practise at their own pace. Daily stretching and gentle yoga poses can make a significant difference to a person’s mobility and general well-being.

Eleanor Buckley standing on her head before her 67th birthday.
Eleanor Buckley standing on her head before her 67th birthday.

Eleanor said: “The joy of yoga, especially at Sacred Body Studio, is that you develop without pain or exhaustion.”

During Covid-19 restrictions, Eleanor focused on her daily yoga practise and utilised the knowledge she had gained from her yoga teacher training. Fabiola contacted her at the end of June and was impressed by how much Eleanor’s flexibility had improved. This inspired Eleanor to set herself the goal of standing on her head before her 67th birthday, which took place on September 1.

She said: “The challenge I faced towards holding a headstand was ensuring that I am doing it safely, by gradually building my body strength, my arms, my core, my upper back, maintaining the pose with ease and without struggle and most importantly, enjoying standing upside down.”

The headstand is often referred to as the King of Yoga poses. There is no doubting that Eleanor, the Yogini Granny, can stake her claim as the Cork Queen of headstands. On August 31, 2021, the day before her 67th birthday, she stood on her head, as promised. She said, “Fabiola and Ghislain were constantly observing and guiding me with key directions to reach that headstand safely. That stretch a day meant my body responded by easing into the next stage to the final stretch. No pain, no strain, just the joy of movement.

“Achieving my handstand was very important to me and I am grateful I had a focus like the Peter McVerry Trust to move me forward each step.”

There is no doubt that yoga will remain an integral part of the Yogini Granny’s daily life.

She said: “Yoga is now a daily practise for me. My need to stay healthy, flexible, and mobile is very important to me so I will practise with no pain or strain every day. 

"All I need is a space the length of my body to practise yoga. Whenever and wherever I get the opportunity, I will share this message with others.”

To follow Yogini Granny, visit Instagram @yogini_granny; Facebook: yoginigranny. To donate to the Peter McVerry Trust via Yogini Granny’s Gofundme page, visit here... or search: iDonate.ie | Support Yogini Granny - “STANDING ON MY HEAD”

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