When a few years back I wrote a post on HuffPost about why I shared my yoga photos online at 53, I got some snarky comments from older women saying “because she’s ONLY 53.” I’ve been hearing that I’m “only” this or that age as the reason why I’m fit, since I was a fitness instructor in my early 20s. At 54 I understand that I’m younger than a 60 or 70-year-old, but I know plenty of women of both ages and beyond who are fit as a fiddle and of course I aspire to emulate them when I’m their age. Anyway, the point of this post – aside from this little rant – is to share what I’ve learned from comparing a recent photo of me in wheel pose, with one of me doing the same pose in the same place a year and a half ago, at 52. I also would love to inspire women younger than my age to take care of their bodies, minds and souls, so they can enjoy their 50s and beyond.
What I learned applies to yoga or to any other life endeavor. In both photos, I felt I was doing my best – which I was – each of the two times. Comparing both pictures showed me that doing the best I can will look different as I improve a skill. This could be writing books, parenting, running my digital business or … doing wheel pose!
I also learned that it can often feel like I’m not making progress in some aspect of life (or on the yoga mat) while I actually AM moving forward. I honestly didn’t realize how much of a difference my daily asana yoga practice was making on my body until I compared these two snapshots. It’s hard to feel or even see the difference when you’re repeating the same old thing day in day out. It can seem like nothing is happening when, in reality, muscles are growing stronger and joints more flexible (or you are improving your writing or business skills or anything else).
The third lesson is that being able to track my progress helps me stay positive and excited. If I’ve come this far, what will I be able to accomplish in another year and a half if I keep practicing yoga? The same goes for any other activity. If I keep up the daily practice required to finish a book or expand and increase my business or improve my parenting skills, I also can’t wait to see what I can accomplish in those areas!
And lastly and this IS age-related, I learned that growing older doesn’t necessarily mean being stiffer and weaker. I don’t take my health or my fitness for granted. I take reasonably good care of myself, but I do drink beer and I don’t ban any foods from my diet (I had an eating disorder when I was much much younger and I don’t play around with that). I work at being fit, but it’s not over the top or anything. I mostly practice yoga for my mental and emotional health, just like I used to run, swim or dance for the same reasons: to stave of depression, anxiety and an obsessive-compulsive personality. The fact that it helps keep my body well-oiled is a welcome and positive side-effect.
I do my best to enjoy my body while I can, because who knows what the future has in store. For now, I will continue to follow the adage: “practice and all is coming” both on and off the yoga mat and see what happens.