A few decades ago, I could not lower my feet all the way to the mat when doing the plough. But, now I can. What does that say about aging? Perhaps "Bah, humbug" as Ebenezer Scrooge would exclaim...But, it also proves that sometimes you can do things later in life that you could not do earlier in your life...There are no set rules.
I am entering the phase of life when some of my peers are starting to complain of certain aches and pains and are taking a constricted view of what they can do physically. Or even worse, lapsing into the refrain of "oh, I am having a 'senior' moment."
If you do this, STOP!!!! DO NOT define yourself by your chronological age! Although we cannot deny the year we were born, we can refuse to be limited by it. I believe that "like wine, we can get better with time," if we maintain a consistent, focused, and heart-felt yoga practice."
And, I have role modes such as my spiritual coach, Carole Dore (www.caroledore.com) who reinforce the belief that aging can be defied. She has begun a crusade to prove that aging is a fallacy and she is the most young-spirited and young-looking 70 year-old I have ever seen (and that is NOT because of plastic surgery or botox). Also, I have the good fortune of having a very youthful uncle who embodies staying active (he loves cross-country skiing in the crisp, cold winters of Maine) and alert at age 81.
Because the practice of yoga helps you gain energy and flexibility it naturally helps to keep you youthful. According to yoga instructor Ina Marx, yoga is pattened after the natural movements of animals (no wonder so many poses are named after our fellow creatures such as the lion, the cobra, the crow, the pigeon, the eagle, the locust, and the crane). And in the August 2014 Yoga Journal article, "Learn Crane Pose," we learn that the crane is a symobl of youth and happiness throughout Asia. Hmm.
I believe that the most important reason yoga helps keep you youthful or can restore your youthful vitality is because it stimulates the circulation of our vital life energy (referred to as "prana") throughout the body through scientifically designed stretches, inversions, and accompanying deep inhalations and exhalations. About 8 years ago when I began practicing yoga more mindfully and with greater attention to my breathing in sync with the poses, my energy soared.
If you have never done yoga before and you consider yourself to be starting at an "older" age, whatever that means to you, it is not too late. All you need to do is take baby steps, proceed gradually, listen to your body continually, and never push yourself to the point of pain. Also, just stop thinking about your age - discard all notions of aging. Really, what purpose do they serve? None.
One of my favorite books, Live Youthfully Now, has some some excellent suggestions and affirmations for staying youthful. Here is one that I have adapted into an "afformation" (i.e., an affirmation worded as a question). Consider using it before and after each yoga practice and notice how you feel physically and emotionally.
"Why is is so easy for me to experience youthful enthusiasm, youthful energy, and youthful optimism all day long?"
Yours for feeling a healthy 25 even if you are 45, 55, 65, and beyond, through the practice of gentle, focused yoga,
Laura Venecia Rodriguez, the Beginner's Yoga at Home Coach