It's a motto my gym teacher would have sneered at in junior high.
"No pain, all gain."
But 35 years hence, I like the sound of it.
It's what yoga instructor Florence Cristelli is telling me and a group of like-aged women at The Space Above yoga studio in Norfolk.
We have come in search of the sublime, and I'm not just talking inner peace.
We want better bones.
Most of us are in the 40-plus stage, old enough to know what "bone density" is, and to crave more of it.
Or to at least hang on to what we have.
And so we are gazing at the high ceiling, our spines one with mats on the polished wooden floors, our minds focused on our breathing and the flutey music wafting through the room.
This Yoga for Strong Bones class that started last week is geared toward strengthening areas prone to fracture: the hips, the wrists, the spine.
Cristelli, a certified yoga instructor, sits cross-legged before us, a sprig of pink flowers in a vase to her side.
"Go only to your own edge. Never, ever push beyond that," she says. "We do not want to push ourselves if we are in pain. If you are, back off."
Which doesn't mean you won't sweat. Or feel sore later.
The idea is to strengthen the core of your body, place added weight on specific bones and build the muscles around them to prevent falls and fractures.
The same low-impact principle applies in exercise like tai chi and pilates and has a nod from the National Osteoporosis Foundation, with some caveats.
Dr. Felicia Cosman, the organization's clinical director, says exercise is important in preventing the bone-thinning disease of osteoporosis, but she reminds us that exercise alone is not a cure-all and that a single class won't turn things around.
Don't log a few hours of yoga, for instance, then run to your doctor expecting an uptick on your bone density scan.
Think long-term lifestyle, not quick fix.
"Your peers who aren't exercising are losing bone density," Cosman says, "so maintaining bone density is an end in itself."
High-impact exercise such as running is great for people who don't have any bone problems, but lower impact is better for people who do. Yoga can be beneficial, she says, but if you've already experienced significant bone loss, beware of leaning-forward positions.
In general, though, moving around, good; lounging sofa-side, bad.
Now that I've boiled the heck out of the medical advice, I will "let it go," as Cristelli tells me.
"The most important thing in yoga is to be in sync with how you are breathing," the lithe-bodied woman says. "It's all about freeing the spine, so energy can move. Relax your shoulders. Scan your body, see if you feel tension anywhere. Send your breath to where the tension is. The body follows the mind."
Cristelli tells us the ways yoga can help your bones: It keeps the joints well lubricated, which increases flexibility. It stretches and builds the muscle around them, preventing falls. It improves your posture.
Most of us spend our time hunched in on ourselves. She demonstrates by pulling her shoulders forward in a pose that replicates my usual position at work. Instead, pull the shoulders back, make sure your spine is in proper alignment, your collar bones fanned out, to create a sense of openness.
Yoga, says 57-year-old Cristelli, appeals to all ages, but baby boomers in particular often look for a therapeutic bent.
"As people get older they find it's not all about how many positions you can do in an hour."
She focuses on holding fewer positions for longer on key areas of the body, and going slow so bones and muscles build gradually and safely.
"You get more acquainted with yourself," she says. "The longer you hold the positions, the deeper you can go inside."
Several people in the class swear by the practice. Pam Zane, 59, says she's been diagnosed with low bone density, and a combination of medication and years of yoga have helped improve her condition.
"I'm convinced that yoga is helping," Zane says. "I want to be strong."
Jane Rostov, 49, is a first-timer to yoga. "I'm at that age when you start thinking about bone health."
But relaxation is an equal draw for her.
"When you reach the height of your inhalation there's a natural pause there," Cristelli tells us. "Honor that. Feel the energy you are made of. Every time you inhale, get acquainted with that energy. Feel it pulsating. When you exhale, let go of what you don't need. Let go of all the petty things that are not important. Allow love to circulate in your heart."
Love is circulating, because I like this whole "letting go" concept, so much that taking notes is ruining the full effect.
On the other hand, the notepad comes in handy when perspiration beads out on my forehead and my leg wobbles with the effort of holding a pose. "You guys go ahead," I think, flopping back to hunch mode. "I'll take notes."
Which makes me think we need to rework the motto:
No pain, all gain. Still plenty of sweat.
Elizabeth Simpson, (757) 446-2635, firstname.lastname@example.org