The Next Best Thing to the Fountain of Youth…Yoga?

Quality of life is important to me. Nothing can be taken for granted as I age. Achy stiff joints, decreasing mobility, loss of strength, and a depressed attitude cramp my style. I happen to like my style very much and I don’t want it cramped!

Yoga was not love at first Uttanasana. I was in my fifties when my daughter cajoled me into attending a class. I pulled out a pair of ancient leggings and a tee-shirt I’d never wear anywhere else and trotted along. Of course with the kind of competitive spirit I possess, I threw myself into it that day, determined to keep up with the much younger crowd. It was a struggle. Even the Sanskrit words the instructor used to name the positions conspired to confuse me. The next morning every muscle screamed revenge. But my daughter’s enthusiasm was impossible to resist and after a while the poses became familiar. When I no longer had to concentrate so hard to keep up, I enjoyed the feeling of well-being that followed an hour on the mat. But I wasn’t dedicated. Months slipped by without so much as a downward dog.

Big changes took place as I launched into the sixth decade of life. I looked and felt older. Once it began, it was appalling how quickly wrinkles appeared, skin lost elasticity, and a roll of flesh settled on top of my hips. In addition to that, I didn’t have the flexibility I’d once had. My joints ached.

Then a younger friend died suddenly.

It was a painful reminder that I didn’t have forever. I recommitted to yoga and had a personal routine designed for me. Now there was no excuse. I didn’t need to go to a studio or enroll in classes. Everything could be done in the comfort and privacy of my own home whenever it suited me. I began to practice with dogged persistence and the results in my psyche were immediate. There was a sense of well-being and relief knowing that I was doing myself a great kindness.

p1050475

Photo from a post in January 2014: Monsoon Yoga on the yoga platform in the old house

Over time, the changes in my body were even more pronounced. I lost the fat around my belly and muscle appeared. My hamstrings stretched and I could balance on one leg forever if I wanted to. Even though I could see and feel the benefits, every day was an exercise in willpower. I’d bargain with myself: you walked three miles yesterday so you can take today off.

And then I got sick. For two months I couldn’t have dragged myself to the mat if I’d wanted to.

When I finally felt able to attempt the routine again, I was shaky and winded within minutes. It scared me how frail I’d become. But something had shifted. In spite of weakness and the physical effort required, each morning I awoke eager to practice. It felt like a gift. I knew that every day I could do yoga was a day of health and I didn’t want to miss it. With gratitude infusing my movements, it became far more than a physical workout. Time elongated, I disengaged from thought and entered a meditative state more in keeping with the spiritual roots of this ancient art.

Yoga in the new house: August 13, 2017

Now I’m 67, well past the stage where being lazy about self-care is an option. I’ll do my routine daily for as many more years as I can. When my body is unable to withstand the rigors of sun salutations and warrior poses, there are other options. Gentle yoga is one of them. I’ve heard the excuses people use: bum knees, weak wrists, bad back. If we do what our bodies will allow us to do, strengthen those parts that we can improve, we’ll be so much better off than if we do nothing.

Advertisements

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shanemac
    Aug 13, 2017 @ 19:13:59

    Sherry, you inspire me and those photos are all gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. kelly a bailey
    Aug 13, 2017 @ 19:54:18

    Love it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Cathy
    Aug 13, 2017 @ 23:20:19

    Great pictures and very encouraging! There is a blog called “Yoga for Healthy Aging” and they want pictures of people over 60(?) doing yoga poses in beautiful settings, yours would be beautiful and encouraging for others!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Aug 15, 2017 @ 09:03:27

      Thanks for reading the article and for the tip about the photo opportunity. That’s funny, but not really. I think the potential for the over 60 yoga market is huge and barely touched. Mature women and men should be encouraged to do yoga for so many reasons, but we need to feel comfortable in a setting that isn’t all exposed midriffs and designer yogi fashions!

      Like

      Reply

  4. pat grimsbo
    Aug 15, 2017 @ 04:35:09

    Dear Sherry, You are so very correct in this message! You know that I shall be 90 on my next birthday and am still going to Welcamp to exercise on their machines Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and also to Arm Chair Exercises those days. Tuesdays and Thursdays I must go through the routine the Physical Therapist taught me after the bad fall on my hip last December when they did X-rays, etc. and sent me to him for treatments. I am daily doing all of these things, besides reclining with my heart higher than my feet for two hours prescribed by doctors several years ago. I can still make it down to three meals a day here at Pleasant Seasons Assisted Living, and participate in many of their activities and interesting entertainment programs. As we age we must just learn to take One Day at a Time! l Love, Mom

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Aug 15, 2017 @ 08:52:02

      You are a phenomenal woman, Mamma! You are a role model beyond compare and I’m proud of you in so many ways. I’m especially impressed with your snake capturing techniques! For anyone who is reading this and doesn’t know, my mother had a snake in her kitchen. Rather than running screaming into the hallway, as I would have done, she stood with one foot on its tail, and one on its head and telephoned the office for help. What a courageous soul!!!

      Like

      Reply

  5. sageblessings
    Aug 15, 2017 @ 04:42:14

    I see from your moms response that you may have received a bit of inspiration from her as well. It is a slippery slope when one is forced to take a break from the physical. It takes discipline to return and keep going. Good piece and, again, well illustrated!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Aug 15, 2017 @ 08:46:14

      Yes, I have a phenomenal mother!

      A break from the physical is a slippery slope indeed, and no one knows that better than you do right now. Patience is something I’ve never fallen into automatically and I don’t think you’re the best at it either!!! I wish you well with the waiting…a meditation that helped me immensely I heard at Common Ground in Minneapolis one night when I went with Jessa and Dan:

      This is my body now. I accept my body as it is now.

      It’s so simple, yet it was amazing what peace it brought me as I did my agonizingly slow recovery. It kept me in the moment rather than wishing for the body of the past or being anxious and impatient to move on from the body I was experiencing in that moment.

      Like

      Reply

  6. sageblessings
    Aug 15, 2017 @ 10:18:28

    Yes, difficult. I am also not patient. I love the mantra and I will use it! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: