Losing Gracefully

Sep 1, 2014 | Age, Inversions, XAging, Yoga practices | 0 comments

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.



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