My dad turned 70 this week. He wrote this brief post about it (he’s a writer, counselor, and college professor). I spent the days before his birthday studying with Tias Little, who I can say with confidence is one of my yoga heroes. What I love most about Tias (and his wife Surya) is they stress the grace and the slowness of yoga. They don’t push and they don’t hurry, and there’s a lot to be said for that, especially in this fast-paced world.
Most importantly, they get that yoga is what we need to stay healthy and active. Yoga, in my opinion, more than anything else.
My dad has been practicing yoga for years. He got into it way, way, before me. He has one book on yoga, and that is it. He’s never been to a class, and has never watched it on TV. He knows what he knows from a book. Which means his form is a little off, and his movement in between poses is a little off, if you’re basing his form and his movements on what we think of as yoga in the west. But what’s awesome about it is: it’s his practice. It’s his own, home practice. It’s what he does based on how his body feels. No one tells him to move a certain way, or to do Warrior I if he only feels like doing Warrior II that day. This is also how I came into yoga: from a book, at home, in our spare bedroom, doing whatever it was that day that my body needed. This is why we all need a home practice, to follow our bodies, and our own internal wisdom. That is why we must learn to follow our heart in this practice. The practice will give us, and guide us into, what we need.
I’m all for going to studios, too. Believe me, I could not survive without my studios. But I promise you this: you will never fully experience yoga unless you get your home practice going. You must meditate, and you must move on your own, and then you’ll start to really experience the essence of this practice. You’ll start to learn to listen to what your body needs. And you’ll be able to apply that to the rest of your day. Your creativity, your attention, your life’s passion, all of this will blossom once you find inner peace. For me, that inner peace is found mostly through yoga and meditation.
Tias made several noteworthy comments during the weekend, but the one that stuck with me the most is the one I tell my students often: We practice yoga in our 40s and 50s in order to get through our 60s and 70s.
Yes, yes, yes.
It’s yoga that has the potential to help us throughout life. It’s what allows us to keep up our activities of daily living when we’re 60, and when we’re 90. Downdog and crescent twist and warrior II will help us stay balanced, and reach for objects, and tie our shoes, and wipe our butts. No one wants someone else wiping their butt. I can’t promise this, but I believe with all my heart that it’s yoga that will keep our minds and our bodies healthy.
I have a new senior client. I meet with her once a week, and I’ll be writing about her more, as she’s incredibly fascinating. She’s 82, and back in the day, she practiced yoga regularly. She got out of the habit, as we all do at times: life gets in the way. But she’s with me now because she wanted to pick it back up. And I’ll tell you, she doesn’t look 82, and she doesn’t move like 82. I have been around a lot of 82 year olds in my day, and this woman would pass as 62. She gets up and down without any problem, she can twist and hold poses and balance without much help at all. She has a great attitude and is incredibly sharp (and I do believe that’s a lot of it, too, that gets us living gracefully in our older ages). But I think mostly, her abilities now are because she practiced yoga for years and years.
I think there’s a lot to be said for slowing down and being more mindful. It’s a process, and I’m often not good at it. I often break from my yoga practice of mindfulness as my morning turns to afternoon. My hope is as I get older, I’ll continue getting softer and stiller. My hope is that at 70, or at 82, I am still writing and still practicing and still learning. As my dad quoted on his blog post, I have miles to go before I sleep.
With love, Jen.
What’s a birthday without dessert; and looking through all of my desserts on this blog I realized I never posted the easiest and simplest of them all. You can get this recipe from any food blogger around, it’s not special. However, this is what is: before you start making this, put your bowls in the freezer. You only need them in there a few minutes, but they need to be cold or your bananas will start melting immediately.
Also, I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t loved this dessert. And, as easy and popular as it is, I still come across people all of the time who have never tried it. I hope you are one of these people.