My YTT, On Aging

Things change, things stay the same


This weekend I was at a junior high school where Dove was competing in an academic competition (aside: she placed 3rd, so proud of her!). I was struck by how little schools, the actual structures, have changed. Take a look at the girls restroom, pictured. This could just as well been my middle school washroom, back in coastal Maine, back in 1986. Yet this is Texas, 2018. Is it possible that they have not made any changes to school restrooms in thirty+ years, or longer? Why?

I have had similar thoughts about mens wallets, toilet paper, mailboxes, envelopes, thermometers… things that have not really changed in my lifetime. Sure there probably could be improvements. And sometimes “new” versions pop up, like those neon velcro wallets, or the mood-ring-like forehead thermometers… (Maybe I’m dating myself?). Sure some men use money clips and some moms use temporal thermometers now,  but the old standards persist over time. 

Why? Because they work.

Yesterday, I began my 200 hour yoga teacher training program. I was so nervous, had butterflies in my stomach, which is coincidentally a feeling I haven’t actually had since I was back in middle school.

The basis of study for the first day was an overview of the human body, the fundamental physical principles of yoga as a healing science. The skeptical, modern, researcher in me wondered: can I reconcile my doubts about the spiritual world and metaphysical concepts of yoga (and related healing practices) with my academic nature? And my inner voice kept answering, yes. Yes. YES!

Why? Because it works.

Yoga is an ancient practice. An ancient science. Some of the terminology, some of the concepts, much of them really, predate modern research and Western medicine. But they are the same. The intention of both is to heal. Yoga looks at a person holistically. How can we make adjustments, or exercise this part of the person (literally and/or metaphorically), to be the best, healthiest, happiest, most whole person this person can be? Western medicine is evolving to appreciate that we cannot just treat symptoms or single ailments, we must look at the whole body, the brain, the psychology and the physical, to heal. Because that works. 

I am thrilled to have come to this epiphany. And I can’t wait for day two of my 200 YTT… two hours from now!

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On Aging

Inspired by the women at the gym

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No, no, no. I am not inspired by the young, Instagram-ready bodies. I could care less about gym fashion.

I am inspired by the older women in the gym. Those who are in their sixties and seventies, sharing the locker room every day. Some of them are water fitness groupies, some attend Zumba and HIIT on the regular. Some are on the mat in the same room with me, and others stick to chair yoga.

Your bodies are strong, still carrying you. Your smiles are weathered but wide. Your eyes tell me you have been through a lot. You are still here, wearing that swim cap, Jazzercising to Maroon 5. Thank Silver Sneakers. Thank the free coffee in the hallway.

We greet each other in the locker room, maybe chat about the weather or a coming holiday. You might mention “the last time” you had cancer. Or your son who never could catch a break. Or the husband you outlived. “Can’t complain,” you’ll say. And I’ll agree.

I don’t expect my body to ever match that of a Kardashian or even a middle-aged starlet, you know the ones… they look so good for their age. No. I want to be at the gym, the day after my seventy-fifth birthday. Breaking a sweat. Cracking jokes.

Thank you, old ladies. Sure, you can sit here on this bench. Let me move my stuff.

Beginner Yoga, On Aging, Yoga for non-yoga people

When you begin

  
You may not be able to touch your toes. 

You may not be able to breathe in and out without coughing. 

You may be embarrassed. Worried you don’t look right. Your mind may be scattered. You might feel as if you have made a mistake. Like you don’t belong. 

Today in a beginner class there was a man who must have been anything between fifty and seventy years old. He was unable to turn his head left or right without extreme effort. He could not lie flat on his back. He was groaning with almost every pose. 

But, he did amazing! He stuck with it. 

Two things made yoga success for him: he told the teacher it was his first time ever and what his physical limitations were, AND he approached the class with a sense of humor. 

When you begin, it is tempting to blend in with a class. Put your mat as far from the instructor as possible. You might compare yourself to the other students. 

Don’t. Yoga is not a competition. It is not a group activity. It is for you, to improve mobility, to improve your mood, for your body and mind. Yoga is your experience, and a good teacher and sense of humor will result in success for your first or thousandth class.