I'm reading a great book at the moment about the benefits of yoga into our older years and I came across this beautiful quote from philosopher George Santayana when he wrote, "Spirit can enter a human being perhaps better in the quiet of old age and dwell there more undisturbed than in the turmoil of adventure." Ultimately, as physical abilities decrease with age, individuals ideally enter the stage in which they can begin to renounce other pursuits and devote themselves more fully to cultivating spiritual maturity, including profound peace of mind. - Jim Carson, PHD
So this got me thinking about my observations and personal experiences of the journey of yoga and how it relates to us through the changing decades of life.
When we are young we are most often drawn to yoga for the benefits and challenges of the physical, and as we mature and grow emotionally our focus is attracted more to the gentle, the restorative and the meditation aspects of yoga.
In the younger years we are more self-absorbed and the influence of media (particularly social media now) and the perception of what we should be rather than a decision made through life experiences and acceptance of who we are, seems to determine our path for a period of time. We are just starting out on our mature journey of self discovery.
I have seen students who come to yoga with their competitive natures and desires to be the best, to hold their asana for the longest, to throw themselves into the physical aspects. Yet they struggle so intensely when it comes to self-care and acceptance that can only occur through meditation and when we allow ourselves to be still and truly get to know ourselves on a deeper level. Sometimes the only way this happens is when it is forced upon us via injury or personal crisis, which can often be a great teacher if we will stop and allow the lesson to be learnt.
The universe has a great way of slowing us down if we refuse to see the warning signs.
I notice with maturity and life experience how the shift in how we see yoga changes. All of sudden there isn't the inclination to have to impress others, but rather see a way of clearing our minds to indulge in the peace, quiet and slowness that just isn't part of our much younger lives. We are all so busy studying, building careers, meeting our soulmates, raising families and paying bills that it's not until we're older that we realise just how much of ourselves has got lost or put on hold through the busy-ness of life.
This particular yoga teacher hopes that we don't have to wait until our "older years" to grow up - that we can take our life lessons right now and prioritise love and peace as we nurture and strengthen ourselves from the inside to the out.
Blessings to you,