Discover Yoga – A Gift For The Rest Of Your Life
Article by Louise Dewar
I’ll start not at the beginning, but with the good stuff. I think my connection to Yoga is like other people’s connection to chocolate or their favourite morning latté. I just feel better for doing Yoga, and like chocolate, I want more!
Yoga is a journey between you and your body – it’s never boring, you don’t need expensive equipment and you can practice anywhere, any time. It’s individual, it’s not competitive. It’s never judgmental. It’s constantly humbling. It’s constantly exciting. Your body feels more alive, more elastic, more open – physically and emotionally. I’m taller now, I’ve added two inches to my reach, my “old age” arthritis has gone, my Morton’s Neuralgia has disappeared, and a nagging neck pain for over 30 years has dissipated.
None of this is instant, but all of this is certainly possible for you too. True, I’m a disciplined, organized person and made Yoga a priority in my life. While working 12 hours a day in advertising I went to three classes a week and made a point of stretching at least 20 minutes a day. The benefits surfaced after about two months.
HUNCHED OVER MY WALKER
I’m also moderately active – love to walk, play tennis and golf – however, it all began when my husband commented that my shoulders were rounding, and I was not walking upright. I saw the slippery slope at only age 58 to where I was hunched over my walker at 78! This was NOT going to happen to me. The day I saw my bent back in the mirror, was the day I took control of my body and made it my mission to become more mobile.
STRETCH OR SNAP
Imagine a piece of gum in the summer heat – it’s runny, and it’s so pliable. Imagine a piece of gum on an ice cold day – it snaps. Quite simply, that’s exactly the benefits of Yoga on your body – you can bend, reach, twist and breathe so much more easily. It’s a choice you make about your body’s future years – do you wish to be fluid, or brittle?
You are either born flexible or not. I am not the least bit flexible. If you have ever seen Yoga on TV, or in a magazine, those pretzel like poses are unachievable for most of us. Ignore those pictures and ignore those people who look like performers from Cirque de Soleil. Focus on increasing your mobility which can be so easily be achieved.
A great Yoga class reaches every single part of your body – it begins to hum in good health, it becomes more elastic through stretching, it sighs with relief because your breathing is deep, and all parts have been stretched. Trust me, it’s addictive to push your body a little further, pull on those tight ham strings just a little more. There is no pain in Yoga, but there is always a little more stretch. When I began Yoga at 58 I could not touch my toes – now in a standing forward bend I can put my hands flat on the ground, that’s an amazing feeling and an accomplishment!
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT YOGA CLASS
Look for a small Yoga studio that teaches Hatha Yoga. Unless you’ve done Yoga for years, start with a beginner class, or what’s called gentle Hatha. Often you’ll see level 1, level 2 and advanced classes advertised. That really is referring to how mobile you are. Your Yoga instructor is key, and it may take several classes to find the right fit. I would look for a teacher who walks around the class, looks at your body, makes slight hands-on adjustments and repeatedly mentions “no pain”, and gives you options for various poses. If the teacher is doing the poses and not observing you, then he/or she has their own agenda and is not mindful enough to instruct you properly.
Just as there are all kinds of crazy diets out there are all kinds of crazy Yoga classes. Remember, it’s YOUR body, find a class that’s sensible and mindful, and does not have you doing head stands – that’s plain dumb at our age. We want to hold our grandchildren effortlessly, swing a tennis racquet or golf club with more motion, glide our shoulder blades back and sit with a straight spine. In fact, if you ever hear a Yoga instructor say “now we are going to prepare for a head stand”, just say “no”!
YOUR YOGA EQUIPMENT
Most studios will provide a mat, or sometimes called a “sticky mat”. If you incorporate Yoga into your life then you’ll want to buy your own mat for obvious hygiene reasons. Studios also supply straps and blocks – all excellent props to assist you in a pose. I have my own flexible strap that I use every day to stretch out my ham strings and to open up my shoulders. But any tie will do. The average cost a of Yoga classes in North America ranges from to – most studios have drop in classes or passes. I suggest trying drop-ins until you find an instructor that you click with, and a class that’s right for you.
REVIEW YOUR YOGA GOALS
Why Yoga? You won’t loose weight, it’s not a calorie burner, and it’s not instant. If you are the type that’s want immediate results, the magic bullet, those 20 lbs dropped, then don’t even try Yoga. However, if you want a gift for life, an hour where you can reconnect with your body and the pure joy of feeling your body shift in micro movements, then Yoga will take you until the end of your days. I can’t promise you you’ll be pain free, (although at 61 I do not have a single joint pain or a single complaint) but Yoga wakes up your body like no other activity- just like that hit of chocolate. I guarantee that every day you’ll want to honour your body and celebrate all it can do. Becoming more mobile is addictive!
About the Author
To learn more about how easy it is and how Baby Boomers can benefit greatly from Yoga go to http://www.helloboomers.com.Louise Dewar is writing for HelloBoomers Magazine, sharing her personal point of view from a female baby boomer’s perspective.