My body is changing with age. Because of society’s ideas about age, it can be a difficult burden at times. To see my skin wrinkle and my waistline widen. I’m lucky to be the owner of a studio filled with (quite a few) women who are older than me. I get the opportunity to allow their years of wisdom to rain down on me. They probably don’t know it but I seek out those sprinkles of wisdom that only seem to come with age. Here’s what I’ve discovered.
Older women don’t give a F*CK what you think about them.
You know how in August (especially in Texas), when it’s been 100 degrees out for over a month the ground starts cracking? It seems no matter how much water you drink you still feel like a resident of the Mojave desert and basically want to just huddle in a dark cold room to wait for November. Then suddenly we get one of those dark, heavy downpours. We get so excited! We want to dance in the rain, let the water stream down our dry faces, fill the cracks in our ground and give us just a little drop of respite. That’s what it feels like. To know (hope) that one day I can finally let go and just not care about the judgement, the criticism and even the praise of others. I can just be. It would be a downpour of relief for me. I’m still working towards it.
As my body changes, my yoga practice does too. When I came to yoga I was still in high school. My body easily did many of what I deemed were the “harder” poses but I didn't have the discipline to stick with it. I never really maintained a practice and therefore never saw what I felt would be the perks of my practice. I never did arm balances or meditated. Therefore I figured I wasn’t really “good” at yoga and let my practice wash away.
Something was triggered in me though. I kept coming back to my practice. Over the years I learned more, did more and yet always felt that I was coming up short. My practice was never “good” enough. My friend Tiffany Denny just wrote a blog post about the transactional trap we fall into with yoga. This part especially hit home with me:
“Essentially, it is in the humility of coming to practice again and again, without promise of reward, that I can cultivate the skills and resilience needed to stand squarely in the face of the challenges, heartbreaks, and injustices at hand, and to meet them with presence, wisdom, and action. It is practice that builds capacity to simultaneously hold despair and joy, anger and love. Yoga is not something to be checked off a list of things to do in order to be “good” and achieve perfection. Yoga asks that I meet discomfort with curiosity, over and over again…”
This is what I am learning with age. Yoga isn’t about the ACHIEVING. It’s about the DOING.
Yes, I do receive many benefits from my yoga practice. I feel healthier, gain more strength and feel more at peace in my life. But yoga is not about perfecting poses and walking through our days blissed out. There are aspects to the yoga journey that are not so sweet. My body may not be able to do all of the postures in class. My body may not look like the other bodies. My mind may think not so nice things about myself sometimes. I might remember mistakes I’ve made. I might feel awful.
But (in the true practice of yoga) every day I just keep showing up. Not because I will one day be able to do all the postures to perfection. Or look like the other bodies. Or think awesome things all the time. Or never make mistakes. Or feel good and always happy. No, yoga isn’t the boat in this analogy, it’s the anchor.
Better yet I AM THE ANCHOR. Yoga just allows the rain clouds to part so I can see that. Yoga stops the downpour of life so I can actually experience it. Yoga connects me back to my existence.
So here I stand. Sturdy throughout all the storms and sunshine. Feeling it all. Holding both despair and joy, anger and love in my hands with my feet planted firmly on the ground. Holding my head to the dark sky and letting the rain run down my cheeks. Holding myself here in this moment.
I’ll keep growing, keep practicing and maybe one day not give a F*CK about what anyone else thinks about me.
You can read more of Tiffany Denny’s inspiring blog here:
Read my thoughts on yoga, teaching, parenting and everything in between. Shout out to Tiffany Stewart for help with the writing.