Losing Gracefully

Yoga and ageing.  Eve at 68 upside down at the beach.

Eve in Headstand at Saltwater Beach

From the above title, you might think I’m going to be writing about a tennis match or a disagreement with my spouse.

But no, this is much more serious. I’m talking about losing memory, losing faculties, and losing muscle strength. I’m talking about The March of Time.

I came across an excellent blog post this week from Eve Johnson, another tribute to yoga guru, B.K.S. Iyengar. She got me thinking about the process of ageing. I know, I know, I’m getting obsessed with this topic.

I think I’m doing ageing reasonably well. I like to attribute it to decades of yoga practice.

Yoga has been my travelling companion for most of my adult life – bending and shaping itself, as I needed to adapt to various stages. This latest one is the getting old stage.

Besides its physical benefits, it seems to me that yoga has been a tool to help me sort out what’s real from what’s unreal and what’s important versus what is unimportant. Eventually, if you hang around doing yoga practice long enough you’ll get down to the nitty gritty. Surprisingly, as Donna Farhi quips, it’s not all about doing a perfect trikonasana. If I do trikonasana today and am grounded and graceful in the pose, but tomorrow, my pose is unbalanced and stiff, they are both valid experiences. I might be tempted to assign a negative value to one over the other, but comparisons only to lead to suffering. Especially when I ascribe the not-so-good posture to ageing.

I’ve noticed things that happen in yoga practice and just in the process of living life that I’d rather ignore. I’m human.

Yesterday, after looking in the mirror, I decided that I probably should get my eyebrows tattooed, as they seem to be gradually disappearing. Well, actually they are losing their former brown colour, that is, they are turning grey. No one prepared me for the eyebrow thing, like the optometrist did when he heralded presbyopia, and my doctor did when he ordered blood tests for cholesterol. So far I’ve skirted cholesterol meds, but not reading glasses.

Yoga and I have been around together for a long time, and God willing, we will be together for a couple more decades.  Age will continue to effect changes in what and how I do practice. It’s already diminishd my ability to do advanced poses. Advanced age may even mean letting go of the basic postures like trikonasana.

What will remain?

Here are two things I appreciate about being at this stage of my life:

  • I’ve cultivated a close and friendly relationship with inverted postures; I believe going upside down is good for me on all levels, and I thoroughly enjoy these poses.
  • I am still learning about pranayama, relaxation and meditation. These are tools which I believe will, in one form or another, be with me for all my remaining days.

Awareness, unwavering attention, gratitude, humility, and honesty are some of the fruits of my yoga practice. Over time, these qualities have been growing in me through my exploration of asanas, and now they are mine.

There’s a point when yoga is not only a thing that you do. It’s who you are.

A Light’s Gone Out, But the Fire Still Burns

1918 - 2014   In 1978 I fell under the spell of a yoga teacher named Martyn Jackson. Martyn taught a kind of yoga that he’d learned in Pune, India from his teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar.He alleged that, in the sixties, he was one of few western students to study with Mr. Iyengar. Martyn went to Pune from New Zealand to undertake one-to-one lessons [...]
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Yoga is for Everyone: Let’s Prove It!

wayne We yogis are a force worldwide. Those who practice yoga represent about 3% of the adult population in Australia. The numbers in the United States are likely to be even higher. We who do yoga can do good and we do. It makes me happy that we yogis want to give back after having received so [...]
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Meditation: All in good time

buddha via pinterest – calmdownnow.com There’s a reason meditation is recommended as a tool for training a busy mind to become quiet. Because, if you give meditation a go and stick with it, like yoga, it works. I’ve had a patchy history of the sticking-with-it part of the equation, although I have tried doing meditation on and [...]
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Self-Care: We Yoga Teachers Are the Worst

pink via Pinterest I taught a Restorative Workshop yesterday in the Yoga Shed for 12 participants. The students came from all over, expecting me to deliver the goods. That is, everyone wanted to leave feeling renewed. I truly hope that people went away feeling peaceful and rested. This morning after my yoga practice and then cleaning [...]
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When You Fall Off the Yoga Wagon….

Child's Pose Eve It’s hard. It’s very hard. It’s just plain hard, and that’s all there is to it. When you fall off the yoga practice wagon and try to clambour back on, it’s difficult to find the muscles you need. I’m talking about those events that upset your disciplined routine: going on extended holidays, being laid low [...]
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The Old and New of Yoga

self discovery image via Pinterest Yoga is elastic. It stretches to fit you now, and then, miraculously, it will give you a perfect fit in the future. All you have to do is jump on for the ride and stay on. The best thing about yoga for me is the very way it is defined: union. And also [...]
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Vive La Yoga Difference

20140711-083316.jpg In a world where yoga is practiced everywhere and at all times, global travelers who want to sample different schools and styles are fortunate to have countless classes at the tips of their fingers. This last week I experienced an unimaginable contrast in the two yoga classes I attended, one in Boston, the other in [...]
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Walking the World is Good Yoga Practice

20140704-143228.jpg The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. Ralph Waldo Emerson Since being on an extended overseas holiday, I’ve been contradicting Emerson’s opinion of the civilized person. Rather, I’ve been experiencing what author and philosophy professor Frederic Gros calls ‘a life scrubbed bare’ and an affirmation of the [...]
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Travels Without a Yoga Mat

20140628-065357.jpg I admire those disciplined yogis and yoginis who arise at 4 or 5 in the morning to do their practice – rain or shine, day in, day out, and year after year. I used to be more that way inclined myself. I’m every bit as committed to yoga practice, but at my stage and age [...]
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