This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Jeanne Startzman. Jeanne is a Whole Life Yoga graduate and certified yoga instructor who teaches Breath-Centered Yoga Basics in downtown Edmonds each Thursday evening. Jeanne can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.yogaspringyoga.com
We all want to maintain our ability to enjoy an active lifestyle–to get in and out of a car with ease, bend over to pick-up something, sit on the floor and play with our dog, or climb up-and-down stairs without pain. Simple things, yet each add richness to our quality of life.
Once we reach a certain age, however, many of us begin to limit our body positions to standing up, lying down, and sitting in a chair. And over time, that lack of movement begins to erode flexibility, mobility, stamina, and our overall health.
Consider the Tin Man. With his joints rusted motionless, he was unable to move until Dorothy came along and used his oil can to release him. If Dorothy had known–and in the context of a yoga practice–consistent, gentle movement of his joints would have brought about the same welcome release.
I have watched yoga students as young as their 40s struggle with beginning, basic postures. Not because of any specific physical issues, but due simply to years of moving within a very limited range of motion.
And depending on the pose, yoga can look easier than it is. Some new students come to class completely unaware that their body is less strong and less limber than even a few years earlier. I can read the surprise and discouragement on their faces when they struggle to bend laterally or exhale into a deep forward bend. As a result, some decide they can’t do yoga and unfortunately, don’t return.
A person who decides to start running doesn’t register for a marathon their first day out. A budding photographer realizes that learning the mechanics of her camera is the first step toward capturing beautiful shots.
And so it is with yoga. It is an unfolding process; we start where we are with mindful breath and basic movement, and within a short time of beginning a consistent practice, we feel our bodies begin to soften and respond. Our very first yoga class leaves us with a greater sense of calm and peace.
If you’ve been thinking about doing yoga, it’s never too late to start. But why not make it a priority now? Think about how you want your body to move and the activities you want to continue into your 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond. Yoga is designed to be a lifelong practice. Poses are modified to integrate the changes in your body as the years progress. Yet at the same time, your yoga practice will allow you to keep moving, whether it’s mowing your lawn, skiing, or keeping the beat playing an 18-pound bass during a four-hour Blues performance.
Jim Brandt, 62, practices yoga, commutes 25 miles round trip to work on his bicycle, runs with Run Seattle for Life, babysits two young granddaughters, and is bass guitarist for the Curtis Hammond Band.