By Jane Knoerle, Almanac Lifestyles Editor
Lolly Font of Menlo Park teaches yoga at the California Yoga Center in Palo Alto, which she co-founded in 1980. She loves to cook and work in her garden.
A photo of her with a basket of home-grown tomatoes recently won in the 80- to 90-year category in ActiveOver50 magazine's first Get Active photo contest. At 83, Ms. Font devotes herself to teaching seniors how to live a healthy and pain-free life.
It wasn't always so. The mother of five found herself crippled with arthritis of the spine at age 43. "The doctor told me 'You're just getting old,'" she recalls. Soon after, she spent a weekend at the famed Esalen Institute in Big Sur. After yoga classes with teacher Joel Kramer and the healing waters of the retreat center's hot springs, "By Sunday I felt young again," she says.
That was the beginning of a 40-year odyssey during which she has traveled to India, Greece, Italy, and throughout the United States, studying under different yoga masters. Today she teaches two large yoga classes on Mondays and Fridays at the California Yoga Center, 541 Cowper St. in Palo Alto.
Most of her students are seniors. Most are women, with the exception of "two wonderful men." She has students who have been with her for 35 years. Her classes focus on practical solutions anyone can learn to relieve pain and enjoy a healthier, fuller life.
Ms. Font is poster girl for a fuller life. She has many friends and many interests. Growing up in an Italian family in New York state during the Great Depression, she learned to cook from her mother.
"Food has been a major part of my life," she says. "In our family, at breakfast we would talk about what we were going to have for dinner. I love to be around food."
Today, she enjoys entertaining, especially family. She taught her 11 grandkids how to cook and proudly says, "They're all good cooks."
She's rather famous for her bruschetta with roasted red pepper. "I'm always asked to bring it to gatherings." The recipe, which includes roasted organic red peppers, marinated with herbs and olive oil, spooned onto Italian bread, topped with a slice of mozzarella or provolone cheese, then baked, has been printed in Jesse Cool's "Simply Organic" cookbook.
She and Jesse Cool are old friends, dating to before the days Ms. Cool was co-owner of the former Late for the Train restaurant. She often has dinner with her at Ms. Cool's famed Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park.
One last question of Ms. Font: What about the name Lolly? "It's really Yolanda. My father named me for Princess Yolanda of Italy. I was his first child and his princess."