Yoga is Not a Trend, It’s a Necessity

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Okay people, I’ve jumped on the yoga mat. While it’s not a pretty sight–my short limbs contorting over and around the extra pooches rounding my middle–I am, once again, right where I need to be.

God help me.

Some clarifying points, so my friends aren’t too startled: I’m enrolled in a beginner’s yoga class. The schedulers graciously avoided adding seniors to the class title although I am one of the youngest people in the class. Last week, I huffed and puffed next to an 85-year-old wispy woman with Parkinsons who was more limber than me.

Good for her, I silently moaned, as I realized I need the class as much as she does.

The ugly, unfortunate truth

My yoga teacher says the body remembers every single injury it’s received. This is not good news for a lifelong tomboy like me. I played hard as a kid–I could run circles around the neighborhood boys–and I played even harder as a young adult addicted to cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana.

My body took a ton of abuse; during college, I was in the ER at least once a semester for an “accident” (like falling down stairs) or symptoms brought on by the physical stress of the ism’s of addiction, like heart palpitations and shortness of breath.

Now, I’m 54 years old, 24 years into remission from addiction, and feeling physically old.

I have degenerative disc disease in my neck and lower back. Most days, I have a band of pain around my upper right thigh. I’m overweight from my love affair with sugar and carbs. I’m on medication for blood pressure and high cholesterol and my family has a history of heart disease.

Again, God help me.

The easier, softer way

Let’s face it. My body took a lot of abuse when my alcoholism was active. I’ve often wondered how that abuse would manifest as I age.

Turns out aging is not my friend, not in my current condition at least. Finally, I’ve cried uncle. I’ve surrendered. I’ve said, “I’m sick and tired and being sick and tired.”

This time, I mean it.

The second yoga class was a tiny bit easier than the first. I went in the evening, worked hard for an hour, got home about 8:30 and collapsed into bed. I slept like people are supposed to sleep.

Wherever did I get the idea that anything good has to be hard or requires great sacrifice? Puh-lease . . .

When you think about it, a gentle yoga practice–mine is called Kripalu Yoga–really is the easier, softer approach not only to good physical body care, but also a mindful approach to overall living. The Kripalu tradition calls this approach taking yoga “off the mat.”

A good practice for living

My spiritual sister, Annie Scholl, writes that getting in better shape is not about the number on the scale. It’s about health and feeling good in our 50s so that we’re setting a good benchmark for our 60s and beyond. I hope to practice yoga into my 80s and 90s (How’s that for optimism?)

Aging is inevitable. I’m good with that.

But I’m not good with repeating the embarrassing incidence in California that happened a few weeks ago. My sweetie and I slid down an incline to the beach on our butts because we didn’t have the stability (or faith in our joints) to hike down.

Two young men jumped up from their beach perch and ran over to collect our grandmotherly selves. Ugh.

Next time? I’ll manuever that path on my own. Aging may be inevitable, but misery, pain and old-lady rescues are not acceptable.

I am a yogi after all. God help me (third time for emphasis)!

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