I have done yoga off and on for many years, but after losing my favorite teacher, it’s been more off than on the last several years. I told myself that I did cardio regularly, that I took care of myself, that I was imprinted on my old teacher, that…yadda yadda.
Truth is, I miss it. I understand now why the gentleman in his 80s never missed class, though he couldn’t do all the poses the way I could. I understand what I’ve lost–not just the peace I derive, but the strength and flexibility. I get now, in a way I never did when I was younger, how the body is a tool you can’t let rust. How being strong matters as you get older, and balance and flexibility are precious resources not to neglect.
Some may think yoga means twisting yourself into a pretzel or that it’s not as good for building strength as weight training, but they would be wrong on both counts. A good yoga teacher will accept you where you are–stiff as a board, unable to touch your knees, much less your toes or perhaps with physical limitations that are immutable–and help you find a way, much like that man in his 80s, to still oil and strengthen your joints and improve your balance. Your muscles will lengthen and your joints will flex further and you will find yourself moving more easily through your life.
You can start yoga at any point in your life, and you can do it for life. I’m back to stretching and working my way through the poses–not as blithely or fluidly as before, but better by the day. It’s not pretty to watch me, but my flexibility is greater and my balance is improving. I inhabit my body in a new way. I feel better. I feel stronger. Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise;), I will be less likely to fall, will move through my life with more safety when I am that 80-year-old.