Namaste together

Nina Maura and Jill Gordon celebrate 51 years of friendship with second act as yoga instructors at Prancing Peacock

Second act: Yardley’s Nina Maura (L) and Jill Gordon (R) are about to complete an immersive, 200-hour teacher training program at The Prancing Peacock Yoga Studio in Langhorne, owned by Liz Conner (center). Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

Inside the castle-like walls of the picturesque Prancing Peacock Yoga Studio in Langhorne, the banter of two women echoed from the antique chairs situated in the main lobby on a recent Friday afternoon.

“You’re the bossy one, not me,” said Jill Gordon.

“Oh, please,” responded Nina Maura.

As the two giggled in union, it was instantly clear that Gordon’s remark was made in jest. The ability to rag on each other is simply something that comes with the territory of being best friends for exactly 51 years.

To be clear, their relationship isn’t all jokes and sarcasm. Maura and Gordon serve as each other’s No. 1 supporters, always encouraging each other to go the extra mile and break out of their comfort zone.

On June 30, the Yardley residents will complete something neither thought themselves capable of – a 200-hour yoga teacher training program. Since February, the dynamic duo has given up weekends and time with their husbands and children for the sake of their “second act.” Not only has this immersive experience strengthened their yoga practice, something both have enjoyed for some time, it brought their friendship to a brand new, stronger level.

“It’s been a gift,” Gordon told The Times, choking back tears. “I have felt enormous gratitude for the past several months.”

Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

For Gordon, it’s a thrill to accomplish something so challenging and rewarding with her other half. She and Maura have been practically inseparable since kindergarten. When Gordon’s family moved in next door (relocating from Plainview, New York to Great Neck), Maura instantly decided that her new neighbor would be her best friend. In fact, she ambushed her mother in the shower to introduce her to Gordon.

“That was day one of our friendship,” Gordon reflected.

The years that followed saw the two attached at the hip throughout elementary and high school, and living together in Manhattan after college graduation. Even when Gordon relocated to Philadelphia for work, followed by a move to Yardley with her husband, she didn’t have to miss her friend for very long. Maura fell in love with someone from the City of Brotherly Love, and purchased a house one mile away from Gordon.

Approximately eight years ago, Gordon (now retired) began taking classes at the Prancing Peacock. After 32 years in a high-pressure sales/marketing position with McGraw Hill Publishers, she craved serenity and balance in her life. Gordon tirelessly worked to convince Maura, who currently holds a fast-paced job in broadcast marketing, to join her on the mat.

But it wasn’t until two and a half years ago, when Gordon had a frightening cancer diagnosis, that Maura finally obliged.

“When it happened, I said, ‘I’ll do whatever you want, whatever you need,’” Maura said, adding how she began at the Prancing Peacock’s Yardley location. “So I started coming and immediately loved it. It’s a very unique place. Just cutting down the driveway, you feel like you have taken a two-hour drive into the country somewhere. When you get there, you just leave the outside world behind.”

At first, Gordon admitted there was some light-hearted animosity toward Maura.

“I started to get pissed off because she’s incredible for a 57-year-old woman, how flexible she is,” Gordon said. “I compared myself to her a little bit with the flexibility, but we have a way of inspiring each other. It became a really special journey.”

Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

Little did they know, this newfound yoga journey would lead them to participate in the Prancing Peacock’s teacher training program. Both wanted to get better at their practice, but both thought they weren’t flexible enough to teach. Thanks to the other’s support, lack-of-confidence became a non-issue.

Throughout the program, Maura and Gordon learned anatomy and physiology, meditation, yoga philosophy, sequencing and more in a group of seven other people ranging in age from mid-20s to early 60s. Classes took place on Friday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Some participants have plans to open their own studio or teach at a local spot, while others, like Maura and Gordon, did it to hone their skills…for now, at least.

“A lot of people who say they just want to deepen their practice, I giggle a little bit because I know that they’re going to find their voice and it becomes a reality during the training that you could do that,” said studio owner Liz Conner. “It becomes not only a lifestyle, but an opportunity to be able to build a place in your life where you could actually support yourself in it.”

In Conner’s opinion, the lifelong bond of Maura and Gordon was a welcome addition to the spring session.

“The relationship that you guys have and how deep you go with each other and how you know each other so well, that’s kind of similar to how the friendships evolve in the teacher training,” she said. “You learn things about each other that you normally wouldn’t share.”

The ladies credited not only Conner, but each other, for their success in the program and deepened love for yoga. While Gordon discovered her life’s purpose during retirement, Maura is able to implement certain lessons into her career.

“I am able to really disconnect and that has been such a gift,” said Maura, reflecting on a recent phone call with an irate client. “I was so calm and she said, ‘Are you on drugs or something?’ I was like, ‘It’s yoga baby.’”

Visit peacockteacher.com/200-hour/ for information on upcoming teacher training sessions, which are approved by the Yoga Alliance. The Prancing Peacock is located at 139 Zimmerman Lane, Langhorne, and 524 Stony Hill Road, Yardley.