Recently in class a student commented, "I had this idea if I did this (the yoga practice), I would get back to where I was!" They were referring to the physical body, how it was, its limitations and that they can’t do what they used to be able to do.
I have compassion for the student who made this comment. We love our lives and all the things we do. We have an attachment to life and things being a certain predictable way. And yet life is unpredictable and we may grieve for who we used to be and what we used to be able to do.
". . . life is unpredictable and we may grieve for who we used to be and what we used to be able to do."
It is a fact that this body is impermanent. It came from the earth and one day will return to the earth. The body changes, it ages. This is a fact. And from my experience with my own body as well as the 100s of students that I have worked with, I’ve seen how long term TriYoga practice supports the body and mind and helps it to meet the physical challenges and changes that come with aging. And in some cases certain things do come back and even improve.
One of the mindsets that I sometimes see students come in with is “what do I need to do to get back to where I was? “ And not to say that can’t happen. I try not to ever rule out anything. In my work with students my aim is to meet you where you are today. We explore the postures together and stay present with what is happening for us now. We learn how to get up and down off the floor, what prop to use, how to strengthen, stabilize, balance, how to make shifts and changes in the flows to meet the body's and mind's changing needs. And we might just find a way to "get back" or maybe discover a new way, a new path emerges as the movements and breath increase the prana (life energy) and begin to open up the body and mind and awaken the spirit.
"And we might just find a way to "get back" or maybe discover a new way, a new path emerges . . ."
In my own journey of yoga postures, I don't think I've ever asked the question, "How can I get back to where I used to be?" For me the question has always been, "It's going to be interesting to see how yoga will meet this body today." Or "How can I use the tools of yoga to help me through this challenge, this difficulty, this stress, this illness?" In other words, "How will yoga meet me today as I am?"
I do think that the one of the challenges with a student who is new to yoga is that they are anxious to get “results” right away. And while changes start happening immediately, it may take some time to see it. For students who are coming into the practice later in life, 60-70s, they report to me all the things they CAN do that they couldn’t when they first came in to class. This is usually around the 6 months mark. After a year their yoga practice has become a well-established part of their lifestyle and most cannot imagine missing a session. Yoga meets you as you are and positive changes can happen at any stage of life!
"Yoga meets you as you are and positive changes
can happen at any stage of life!"
I also observe my 60 -70 year old students who have been attending for the past 20 years or more and have a range of movement that is available to them that might not be had they not been practicing, These students have more knowledge of how to move the body, how to be safe, and most importantly how to slow down and pay attention. This greatly lowers the risk of getting injured in daily activities. The meditation, inner focus, mindfulness, positive thinking and deep relaxation helps with an overall sense of feeling more inner peace and joy.
In my experience as a yoga teacher/yoga therapist I see positive changes at whatever age students come in. And part of the changes that come is an acceptance of the process and an acceptance of the life journey. And in this gentle acceptance, inner peace permeates. There comes a letting go of what we thought we wanted and we open to the mystery of our continual unfoldment and expansion. And this, we discover, starts to become way more exciting, amazing, and fulfilling than whatever we were clinging onto before. It does happen, all you need to do is begin.
". . . all you need to do is begin."
Jaya Guru Devi
Kashi Ananda Devi