BY: TRISHA CURLING
Wait until you hit thirty, then you’ll know! Wait until you hit forty, then you’ll know! Wait until you hit fifty, then you’ll know. Wait until… You get my point. It’s actually pretty frustrating to continue to hear things like this, especially when you are trying to take control of your health and do the very best you can, not to stay young forever, but to feel the best you can for YOU. In my opinion, being your best you, is the best goal to pursue. Yoga has a direct impact on maintaining good health at any age. We are not just working physically, but we are working mentally which arguably has a greater impact on the way we feel at any given age.
“But yoga is more than physical. It is cellular, mental, intellectual, and spiritual – it involves man in his entire being.” (B.K.S. Iyengar, The Tree of Yoga pg. ix)
Due to the fact that yoga has such an impact on so many areas of our person, we continue to develop all of the areas of ourselves that need to be nourished in order to function at our greatest capacity. If we nourish these areas, do we not maintain a younger, fresher attitude both physically and mentally at any age?
I like the concept of “Use it or Lose It”. Movement and stimulation are the keys to keeping us razor sharp physically and mentally. Yoga is a practice that is available to anyone at any age. If we choose a particular perspective about it, there is absolutely no limitation. B.K.S. Iyengar (known as the person who brought yoga to the Western world) in his book The Tree of Yoga, talks about the mind having the capacity to be both the “maker” and the “destroyer”. This is true in how we feel about our capabilities when we reach a certain age. Do we follow what society tells us? Do we let our potential physical “limitations” stop us? Or do we see beyond our current states and become makers by believing what we want about ourselves and not what others try to place upon us. Others may feel that they have good intentions when telling us what to be “prepared for”, but we need to remember that we have the ability to create our own experiences. It is true that sometimes limitations/challenges we may face are out of our control, but if we work on maintaining a positive attitude and focus on the things we can do, rather than what we cannot, it will help us to stay “young”. Yogic philosophy teaches us this concept. This is why and how it keeps us young. It shows us that it is possible to approach life and asana (yoga poses) from a position of capability, rather than disability.
If we look at the physical. Yoga builds not only flexibility, but it builds strength. Strengthening connective tissue and muscles allow us to be able to maintain our independence to move around with more ease and confidence. Our minds stay sharp, because, a regular practice teaches us to stay in the present and be more mindful of how we move and think. Yoga keeps us young because it connects us to all parts of our being. Our physical, mental, and spiritual bodies are all being nourished during and outside of our physical practice. Nourishing these aspects of our lives allows us to not be pigeon holed to what society tells us we should feel at a given age. Yoga offers us an opportunity to feel our very best within our own definition of what that is.