I recently posted a cute cartoon from Harold’s Planet on Facebook and Twitter that read “It’s hard staying young.” It pictured one of the Harold’s funny guys lying on a couch with a bottle of wine in his hand. I have to say, I did identify.
I live and work in Aspen Snowmass, CO. If you know anything about this part of the world or have visited in the winter or summer, then you know that health and fitness is a way of life here—sometimes to extremes. You also know that most stores here don’t carry sizes for women above size 8!
It does no good in this environment to discuss age, complain about age, or even worry much about it. Any complaints about aging here are met with stories about an 80-year-old who skied powder today or completed a century bike event.
Listening to What's Right for You
I do notice, however, that most days in the yoga classes I attend, I am the oldest person in the class. I have often wondered about this. Where are the other 60 plus-year-olds?
I take Vinyasa Flow classes to fabulous music at a popular Aspen studio. The teachers are young, knowledgeable practitioners who teach to a variety of skill levels and offer accessible alternatives to the more difficult asana.
They encourage everyone to try new poses but always caution to listen to your body and do what’s right for you.
So after three years of practicing and studying yoga, with many more on the horizon, I hope, here are some of my thoughts about age and yoga.
- Listen to your body but don’t let it make you afraid. Even if you have a few aches and pains, it is better to move than not to move. Get your blood flowing!
- It’s ok to stretch a little and go out of your comfort zone. You may not be able to twist and turn like that young body next to you, but it’s ok to take things a little beyond your comfort zone. Just respect your body and you should be fine.
- As they say, “Check your ego at the door”—sure you used to be able to lift your leg higher, do a split or stand on your head. If you can’t quite manage those moves today, it’s ok. You’re there, you’re active and your yoga is for you! This is all important to remember and to play over and over in your head. Let it become your mantra.
- Think about why you are in your yoga class…I’m there because I want to keep my body and mind focused. I really believe that you are only as young as your spine. So staying supple and flexible is key for me. Think about your reasons for taking class day after day. No matter what your reasons, showing up is half the battle.
- Yoga is like a fountain of youth...It keeps your bones strong, your mind sharp, your innards healthy, and your spirit uplifted. There have been so many studies to prove these points that it almost goes without saying. But above all, at my age or your age, you will need a sense of humor. Be able to laugh at yourself as others around you tip upside down or balance on one limb. If you decide to give that advanced position a try, just remember to giggle a little or even guffaw out loud as you land on the floor. In short, don’t take yourself or your yoga too seriously.
No matter where you live or where you practice yoga, age is real—but it is mostly a state of mind. Don’t let it get you down!