Too old for yoga?

Never. Get this out of your mind. It might be a challenge to go to a class where everyone else it 20 or 30 years younger, some might be flexible as f***, some do arm balances as if they never did anything else in their life. And there are others, young and stiff like a tree.

Yoga is something you do for yourself, for your body and your mind. It’s not a fitness regime, no space for comparison, nor judgement. Be happy for those who can do things easily, be compassionate for those who have to work more on it. And be with yourself. Grateful that you showed up, doing what’s possible that day. There’s no room for the ego in a yoga class.

Some years ago I was really disappointed when I heard that we should step back from a certain age. Why? I want to continue learning, improving, growing. I want to access at least some of the super challenging postures. And I can. Daily practice does a lot, and I’m not talking about working on a certain posture like crazy, no, just do your practice regularly and your body will change.

I proved it, you can learn headstand, forearmstand, you name it, no matter the age. The key is not only regular practice, but also listen to your body. Never do something while your body says no, not today. Accept. Same here, no matter the age. The only difference when it comes to age is, that the older we get, the longer it takes. Not just physically, also the mind kicks in. All of a sudden there is fear. Don’t fight it, don’t ignore, but embrace it and it will slowly melt. Yes slowly. Be patient. I know, patience is nothing I was born with!

However, the last 2 years I experienced some push backs. I had to pause my practice a few times due to injuries (not yoga related!) and it was so difficult to come back to my daily Ashtanga practice. Age? Maybe, maybe not. I accept it and go slower. Reminding myself, it’s for me, there’s no competition. Not even with myself.

I allow my practice to change. It’s not about this doesn’t work anymore, I can’t do what was possible a few weeks ago, it’s about change. Allow your practice to change. Some asanas might get more difficult all of a sudden, while others become accessible.

There’s another level – while working physically, yoga is also a spiritual practice. Ageing is a great teacher to embrace who you are and continue your journey, even if it looks different.

There’s more

Many people practice yoga as their fitness regime – which I believe is totally fine, if this is what they want. However, yoga shouldn’t be placed in the fitness realm. Getting a strong and flexible body might happen through regular practice, but yoga isn’t just moving from one pose to another. It’s about ourselves, establish a deep connection to the self and learn on the way.

If you’re after competition and judgment, the yoga studio is the wrong place to be, as yoga isn’t competitive at all, it’s not about can or can’t, it’s not about the student next to you. We are using asanas to quieten our mind, to slide into a moving meditation.

That doesn’t mean we can’t do some of the fancy stuff that is popular right now! Go, try everything that catches your attention, but also understand there is more. 

When attending a yoga class, be prepared that you might not get what you want. Instead, be open to receive what the teacher is ready to give to you. Encouraging and guiding you to look inward, and become rooted in the deeper sense of yoga.

It’s a slow process, there’s no rush.

Photocredit Pasindu Madushan Photography

Find peace within

There is no bad practice. All practice is perfect. Each asana is perfect.

Do you feel overwhelmed sometimes from all those Facebook and Instagram yoga pics and videos? Honestly, I do sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch yogis in their beautiful practice, but same time I feel kind of sad. We should avoid thinking that this is how a yoga practice should look like.

What we see is a beautiful performance. Is it yoga, because the it’s made of yoga postures? Can be. Perhaps it’s just a show of flexibility and strength. We can’t see what’s happening inside, but for sure it’s not me. It’s not you. It’s not our truth. So it doesn’t tell us how our practice should look like. Just watch and enjoy. End of story.

On your mat, close your eyes. Withdraw your senses and start your practice. Let your aim be finding yourself, your true self. Not your body, not your thoughts, not your limitations. Through asana practice, through meditation, or best case a combination, a moving meditation. Having said that, it is important to do the postures as correct as we can to avoid injuries and to benefit most. However don’t care much about how your practice looks. It’s your practice, just yours. Your practice is not mine. Mine is not yours. Both are perfect. No judgment, no competition.

Allow your mind practicing yoga, not just your body doing asanas. This is what it’s all about, connecting, stillness, peace. Within.

Om shanti shanti shanti.

Image: a card from the beautiful Moon Deck (www.themoondeck.com)