Yoga Suits Her
Photo by: Julie Slavin Photography, Old Bar
‘You don’t get to keep everything you came into the world with.’
I came across this quote a while back and it clicked for me as I crossed the threshold into being a 70 year old. Maybe I saw it in the week that I had appointments to see my eye doctor, my physiotherapist and my orthopedist. Pick any week now and there’s likely to be at least one medico/therapist appointment in my calendar.
Whether you’re a young person or an older one like me, little by little your capabilities and your senses will begin to deteriorate. Count yourself ‘lucky’ if you’ve avoided life-threatening disease or if you’ve beaten back such an enemy. We are able to be more victorious over disease these days because of modern medicine. Many people live with a disease such as cancer or diabetes for many long years because of advances in drugs and therapies.
Still… we might as well get used to what is looming. Along with ageing, there will likely be surgeries, presbyopia, hearing losses, osteoarthritis, muscle wastage and more.
This is the arc of life, with a peak somewhere in there, but for the most part, we miss it.
When you look in the mirror today, you could say to yourself, ‘Gawd, you are looking beautiful.’ You might as well admire today’s presentation because next week you will look slightly altered. As I did yesterday when I noticed my hair had ‘suddenly’ become greyer than I ever remembered. (If you can, avoid using the expression ‘for your age’. That will negate the little bit of self-love you generated when you complimented yourself.)
I came across a video recording of a yoga presentation I did as a 50 year old. I can see how cocky I was then. There was something of the superwoman in my demeanour. I was oblvious to the menopause heading my way and that was just around the corner. Not to mention a hysterectomy, double hip surgery and the general weakening of senses–all of them still in my future. Intellectually I knew I wasn’t immortal, but I still believed I was so on top of things.
It would seem that we would be better served with more preparation for and embracing of ageing, If we were really in touch with the fact that there are going to be losses, we could keep a lighter grip on our identities. We could avoid trying so hard to get back to who we remember ourselves to be.
This doesn’t mean becoming complacent about taking care ourselves or capitulating to being old before our time. Let us keep up our yoga practices, play bowls and tennis, do dance and barre classes. And at the same time being realistic and making peace with that beautiful person in the mirror.
We can take heart from this encouraging BBC article which states:
Growing old has been synonymous with bodily decay since ancient times. The Greeks had a particularly dire view – many saw ageing itself as a disease. Yet the latest scientific research suggests ageing isn’t a straightforward decline after all. Life peaks later than you might think. There’s mounting evidence that old age brings happiness, intellect and even better sex.
Any bookshop, whether online or bricks and mortar, can order copies of Teach Yourself Yoga. Just ask and quote ISBN: 978-0-6487945-0-9.
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The Previous 3 Posts
I’m forever grateful that my dear girlfriend, Mary Lou, came up with the idea of us doing yoga. She thought we could lose some weight and learn to relax by participating in a 10-week course at the local YMCA.
I was a no-nothing regarding yoga, but I trusted my friend. If I had been able to google the word ‘yoga’ in 1971, I would have found references to the Beatles and Mahreesh Mahesh Yogi, Ram Dass and psychedelic drugs, and television shows with women in Lycra leotards and stiffly sprayed hair.
Mary Lou and I arrived at the YMCA class and took up our cross-leg seated positions on gym mats. I sneaked a peek at the fifteen or so other students–not a man in sight. That part of yoga has not changed much.
Leading the class was a slim, lively yet calm woman in her mid-sixties. Dorothy Tomarelli told us by way of introduction that her husband had died a few years previously. As a result of her grief, Dorothy went into a rapid emotional and physical decline. Her muscles atrophied and she lost strength. Her doctor, seeing her depressed state, advised her to take up yoga. Dorothy decided that she had nothing to lose and searched for a class. It turned out to be so much of a lifesaver that she decided to teach yoga.
This is often the way a seed is planted for future yoga teachers. We are inspired by someone. As I listened to Dorothy, something stirred in me. I saw a glimmer of hope in Dorothy’s story–the possibility that health, happiness and even longevity could be mine.
January is ‘The Month of Good Intentions. It’s the time to get back on track if you’ve taken a detour off the straight-and-narrow. January first is a blank canvas, a fresh sheet of print paper, a blank slate.
Next year marks the 50th year that I’ve been practising yoga.
Sometimes when I say that to students in class, I’ll add: This is how someone turns out after doing this much practice.
It’s one of my weak jokes. I mean to say, I’m pretty healthy but I’m not a total paragon of health and fitness. I’m a seventy six year old with a collection of old injuries and medical conditions, and some of the infirmities of ageing.
The good thing about staying with yoga all these years is that those injuries, conditions and ageing have taught me how to adapt. They’ve all been teachers, shaping my approach to yoga, and even my attitude towards life. Yoga is an amazing discipline for helping you get in touch with yourself if you are willing to learn.
I know, I know. Yoga teachers all want to teach remotely. I’ve been no exception. Here are some video and audio productions that I’ve made. Not many – it’s something that I alway mean to get around to.
No, I’m not selling yoga mats or clothing. I don’t even have a t-shirt… yet. But from time to time I find myself with something that someone may want. Have a look, I’m never sure what you’ll find.