I may be an elder but that does not always make me wise. One of my goals in doing regular meditation is to develop the quality of resilience. To be able to get myself out of a heavy mood in a reasonable timeframe. To get up off the floor when I feel like I’ve been run over by a Mack truck. The Japanese have a saying, “Fall down 7 times, get up 8.”
I always felt that Gita lived the life of a nun. She dressed in white and was steeped in the wisdom of spiritual texts. Gita devoted herself utterly and completely to the needs of her father and brother after her mother’s death. She worked tirelessly to ‘reveal’ yoga to the world, travelling and teaching, even as her health was failing.
It’s being said loudly and often by teachers of my generation that modern yoga has become too superficial. In an article in the American Yoga Journal, Ann Cushman makes the case for the importance of asana practice. But then, she then goes on to say that when students become more serious about practicing, they need to take on some of the other instruments in the yogic toolkit.
Thank goodness yoga is for all ages: the baby in utero, her mother and her grandmother, as well as kids in school and older kids in grad school. Sportsmen, mechanics, and musicians do yoga along with retirees and renunciates.
At every age and stage, we know yoga to be a stretchy system that bends to your needs. Not only that, it helps foster well-being, sweetens your nature and confers long life. Perhaps it will give enough detachment so that as you advance in age, you will be merely amused by any belittlers.
In almost every class I teach, I make a point to give thanks for this community we create when we come together. Whether your particular class happens in a gym or in a school hall, you are likely to connect with like-minded people. These may ultimately become fast friends. Lasting friendships are promoted by yoga teachers who make a point of providing time and space to socialise. Having a cup of tea after class, or in our household, one of Daniel’s coffees, we get to talk about more than yoga postures.
By attending classes regularly, there’s the potential for deepening friendships with classmates. Yoga teachers and students get the chance to bond, too.
I told an eighty year old friend that I visited the BreastScreen van every two years. She said, ‘Why do that? After age 70, you don’t have to worry about breast cancer anymore.’ Not true.
This is the true story from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which is a fantastic on-line resource.
Cancer rates begin to increase after age 40 and are highest in women over age 70. (The median age of diagnosis of breast cancer for women in the U.S. is 62.)
The reasons that knee problems develop are varied. There are three main knee bugbears that have to do with body imbalances. One is hyper-flexibility which leads to overextending the knee. Another is related to the feet, where one’s arches are overly high or collapsed. Either of these create problems that run from the ground up to the knees and can create uneven wear and tear. For instance, the arch imbalance causes the cartilage on one side of the kneecap to wear out, leading to osteoarthritis. Tight or weak muscles will also create knee pain or injury.
I hoard yoga sequences. When I write out a plan for teaching, I will use it for my own practice and for my classes over the week. But I seldom throw these programs out. I save my designs, and I keep other teachers’, too. If I do a class in San Francisco or Byron Bay or even with local teachers, I will ask for that teacher’s written plan.
After almost four decades of yoga practice and teaching, I have filled seven lever arch files. Each of these holds 500 A4 pages. In addition, I have a box of programs still to be filed which I haven’t been able to face as yet. There’s just one more area of hoarding. These are the folders from my retreat and workshop plans I’ve kept for years.
Every now then I think, yikes!, I’m going to be 74 in a couple of months. I better do something quick as I seem to be losing the battle with ageing.
What’s been happening is that I’m not as strong as I once was. I’m stiffer and achey in some of my joints. I have a bit less muscle and more flesh around my middle. And I get fatigued more easily than before.
Uh-oh. I forgot to mention the occasional bouts of sciatica.
Obviously, I need to join the gym, become more flexible, lose the middle chubbies and have power naps.
Very few people seem completely content with the way their hips work, a sad thing to say about such a pivotal part of one’s anatomy. For some of us, our hips are too tight and for others too flexible.
Here’s a sequence that will give your legs, groins and hips a good workout. For you supple yogis out there, focus on keeping firm to centre, holding the muscles around upper thighs and hips close to the bones. […]