The beauty of Aging

Many of us experience some changes around the age of 50. I’m not talking about any kind of midlife crisis or menopause for women, while this might also be a trigger to rethink where we are in life. No matter the reason, it seems to be the time to reinvent oneself.

A friend of mine, who turns 50 this year, takes this as an option to rethink what he wants his life to be and he takes the necessary changes. Those changes can be quite big things; it might even come to a real turn over.

I heard from another friend who had a rigorous 6 days a week Ashtanga practice, that with her menopause starting, she allowed herself to be less strict and her yoga practice turned to be more calm, slow and gentle, always listening to what her body needs that day.

This time might be an entry point into a new phase of life, with new options, new strength, and the courage to change and eventually start something new. It might concern the job, the place we live, relationships, our practice or the entire life set-up; no matter what direction we’re aiming to go, if you feel called, do it. Even if aging shows us at this stage the first indications that not only the outer appearance is transforming, but also the body complains more. And hey, where is that fear coming from all of a sudden?

Many yogis start taking it easier at that point, while for me the full story started then. At the age of 49 I did my first teacher training and instead of getting calmer, my yoga journey took off and was at its best around 52. I’m 54 now and my body talks to me loud and clear, mostly not what I want to hear and I learned that it’s not always about doing the full Ashtanga series each day, it’s about showing up. Being on the mat every day, doing what I can. Luckily, my body is still improving, still learning, adapting, bending more, even if progress takes much longer. My practice teaches me to be patient, the most difficult thing to learn for me! To accept, that it’s totally fine where I am on my journey and not just that, it is phenomenal how my body and mind changed over the past few years.

We move on, the three of us, together, body and mind and soul. We keep on changing, improving, learning and the very new thing: we take it easy.

Do you pray?

I never used this term, as I related it to religion and I thought, people pray in a church, mosque, temple or on their own to their god. I even had issues with the term god, as I don’t belong to a religion and don’t believe in god. 

Even if this is still the same, my attitude made a full turn-around when I went to India for my teacher training first time and saw how open and easy people deal with their gods (yes they have more) and how they pray. I learned about the Hindu gods, and I love all the stories around them, colorful and beautiful analogies. And I like that they have a name, a family, a face, a body, certain things around them and everything is representing something important in life. Everything and everyone has a story to tell. They seem real. Even with a lot of arms and other magical attributes.

India took away the strictness and tightness I saw in religion as such and showed me a world full of openness, laughter, ease and same time seriousness. I learned to put my hands in prayer in front of my heart center during my yoga practice and nothing felt wrong with it. It wasn’t religious, it felt and still feels as a ritual.

However I still replace the term god with universe when reading a spiritual text and I still don’t pray, but strongly believe, it’s just a matter of definition. I recite mantras, I talk to the universe, I challenge the law of attraction, I ask and give thanks to my angles.

Well, guess some would call it praying. 

yes yes yes

When I arrived in India for my first teacher training, I faced this plate next to the door of my room. Pincha Mayurasana was all I saw. I started panicking…. was I supposed to do this? I mean, my aim was NOT becoming a yoga teacher, I did this training just to soak up all about yoga. Well, that’s what I thought. You know quite well, I was damn wrong, as I started teaching right after my first teacher training and nothing can stop me since 🙂

Back to Pincha Mayurasana. In times of Instagram yogis, it takes some courage to state what we can’t do, rather than posting fancy postures only. Thanks god I always had amazing teachers, who never pushed, but teached. I learned, that being a good teacher doesn’t require that I can do all postures in perfection. Plus, yoga is not just postures, it’s so much more – but that’s a different story! Finally, teaching is not about me, it’s about my students.

However, some months ago, I decided to work on handstand and forearm stand. I knew the technique very well, I was strong enough, but fear still stopped me. I know I have to learn slowly, as it is all about building trust. Learn how a posture feels, what happens in the body and what my mindset has to be. I focused on handstand for some time and a few days ago, I tried forearm stand once again. My work paid off, it was much easier than before. And today is the day, the first time, I managed to bring my feet off the wall in pincha. OMG. Even if only some seconds, this was a major breakthrough, as now I know that I can do it. Now it’s just a matter of practice, but I’m already there.

Once you master a posture, look back. What did the process teach you? It’s not about the posture any longer, but how you changed, what you’ve learned on the way and what you are able to do. Honestly, I believe this way of slow learning is much more beneficial than just hopping into postures by default. It’s telling me a lot about life and about myself. A process so worth it!

 

 

When students become teachers

We rise by lifting others!

Three of my students decided to do a teacher training and the first one will be on her way soon. Honestly, I couldn’t be more proud! It’s fantastic to observe their paths, their interest beyond the physical practice and their openness for the yoga way of life.

A friend asked me recently, if I won’t be rather offended as they will be competitor teachers? Not at all! Yoga isn’t a competition. We serve each other, we lift each other, we spread the love. This might sound a bit like phrases from the sixties, but we’re quite aware about the business behind. Teaching yoga is business, but it works slightly different. Yoga teaches us about oneness, a quite unusual approach when it comes to business – read more about this in one of my previous posts.

Teachers are students, students are teachers. I strongly believe, that we don’t meet by default. We have to learn from each other, no matter which role. We are mirrors for each other or to put it another way: “recognize, the other person is you”. Give and receive, teach and learn, recognize and change, release and grow.

When my student becomes a teacher, I also see my journey. I see the excitement, the fear and the believes, particularly the limiting ones. I see me. I know there are a couple of things I can help with, but there are others that everyone has to experience and go through themselves, it’s part of the game. Finally being a teacher all of a sudden is a milestone itself. Standing in front of a class, developing one’s unique style…. Hesitating, struggling, and same time enjoying…. It’s beautiful, touching and yes, I’m damn proud! You so rock!

Om Mani Padme Hum