Yoga for the Rest of Your Life

A yoga practice is like a fine wine that matures as it ages.  Like a mature wine with it’s full body, depth of character, complexity and balance yoga leads us to wholeness, deepens our physical and spiritual core, smoothes out our edges and restores our balance.  Yoga makes life easier as a well-aged wine is easier to drink.

The time has come to recognize yoga as a lifestyle if for no other reason than it has stood the test of time and it delivers on what it promises. By now you would have to literally live under a rock to not know that yoga means the joining of mind, body and spirit or life’s essential trinity.  As soon as you step onto a yoga path and move beyond the physical challenges the potential for that trinity becomes clear and the endless well of knowledge becomes your inspiration.  Balance is the way of the natural world that we are undeniably a part of so it stands to reason that it is what we innately strive for.  

As we mature we change and our yoga practice matures with us.  We can all relate to the many curve balls that life throws and the unknown around every corner no matter what stage of life we happen to be in.  Some of us are beginning careers while others are ending careers.  We could be in the midst of raising a family or facing an “empty nest.”  Our youthful resilience is being replaced by age related challengesOne thing you can be certain of is change, controlling it is a futile undertaking so rolling with the punches appears to be the skill worth honing.  Yoga is an art that teaches us to be physically agile, mentally nimble and open to the universe so adaptability becomes second nature.  It is not a “one size fits all” and it’s versatility is suited to all ages.

Young adults need an externally driven practice as they come to yoga at a point when they are trying to find their place in the world.  A physically demanding practice addresses their need to perform and satisfies their competitive nature.  They build badly needed confidence and become part of a community, which bridges the gap from family to the world at large.

Adults need the balance of mind, body, and spirit as they are in the midst of their lives taking shape, probably the most stressful stage of life.  With increased responsibility comes a sense of being pulled in many directions, 24/7 is not enough time, it’s almost as though they can’t catch their breath resulting in the height of anxiety.  Balance is of the essence.  It’s the perfect time to take advantage of mastering asana to stay fit, expanding mental horizons through internal navigation and deepen breath in order to stay connected to our selves. 

Mature adults need an internally driven practice as they are at a crossroads reflecting back on who they’ve been, assessing who they have become and curious about what lays ahead, paths yet to be explored.  They’ve come full circle and stand ready to face themselves’ perhaps for the first time.  Physical challenges are to be expected and yoga presents a unique opportunity to keep the aging process at bay.  Suddenly less is more, less exertion more depth.

The physical demands of yoga require that we find our center of gravity and learn to safely go beyond our edges.  The mental demands of the practice require that we learn or master through mapping and tracking and the spiritual demands that we synchronize with our breath in order to be present. 

Body: Core strength. 
A practice without the core is like the earth without the sun. The core, 2 inches below the navel and 1 inch in is literally the center of gravity.  It is made up of 29 muscles so finding it, engaging it and deepening it is a learning curve that is refined over time.  The core should be the source of all movement to ensure that we stay on course; balanced, safe, and stable.  As each asana pulls you out to your edges it’s the core that pulls you back to the center.  The ultimate goal is to have a toned core 24/7 on and off the mat.

Mind: Mapping and tracking or GPS.
You would never embark on a journey to an unknown destination without a map or a tracker.  Think of yoga as GPS taking you to your edge and beyond.  As with travelling the more you repeat the route the less you need directions, it becomes second nature.  Not unlike learning to ride a bicycle, which in the beginning requires deliberate and intentional practice until it is mastered and you are riding without thinking.  The joy of yoga comes with effortless effort.

Spirit: Breath
Not unlike the brain the breath is a terrible thing to waste.  Breath is the key to life and yoga.  Broadening our understanding of the breath confirms how mind, body, spirit or life’s essential trinity comes together and makes sense of the claim that yoga is the thread uniting us with our highest nature.  All the spiritual aspects and benefits of yoga transpire here.

It is common knowledge that yoga is not about the poses but about mastering the nuances of mapping and tracking, deepening core both physically and spiritually and coordinating the breath to connect those dots.  What we experience as we master this is a sense of integration, an unparalleled level of body awareness and incentive to continue learning.

All of the above is ageless and timeless.

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