YOGA: AT MIDLIFE AND BEYOND.

The Yoga Experiment

As you age into the next stage of your life, you may want to consider meeting a new friend - Yoga.

It can become one of your most reliable companions, bringing you strength and flexibility, relaxation and energy, steadiness and clarity, and even deep, internal contentment. It can uplift your mood, release stress, stimulate creativity, make you laugh out loud or moan and groan, awaken deep wisdom and even nurture your heart and soul. Because you can practice at home, or with others it can be both a source of internal self-discovery and a resource for active social engagement.

Best of all, unlike many of our friends and companions, it is always there when you need it.

Although much of what passes for Yoga in the media-hype looks like a stretch contest or a style show, in reality Yoga is uniquely adaptable to any age, size, shape or level of fitness. You don’t have to dress up or wear green tights and get a tattoo – although you can if you want. it’s a “come as you are comfortable” practice. And because it so user friendly, it is never too late to start.

Given the natural reality that we age every day, our attitudes about that process have an enormous impact on our state and mind and therefore our happiness. If we are afraid to age, despairing of the changes, feeling helpless in the face of our own mortality, stuck in self-pity or trying to pretend that we are not aging, then the future looks all downhill.

However when we utilize techniques that have stood the test of time – Yoga’s 5,000 year history is a pretty good indicator of it’s efficacy - we regularly surprise ourselves with what we are capable of doing, feeling, changing and discovering. As a result we can go about our days, weeks, months and lives with a deep confidence that we are doing good for ourselves, and being self - responsible at the very highest level of self-health care.

Yoga practices are anecdotally proven to enhance our aims and enrich our well being. We don’t need laboratory tests, PhD reports and statistical evidence to know what is good for us. We have our innate common sense and real life experience. It’s simple. We are our own expert scientists, studying our own aging, and our personal bodymind is the laboratory. Our lives will tell us very quickly whether the Yoga experiment works.

Do I feel better? Am I more relaxed? Do I have less pain? More energy? More positive mood? Am I less fatigued? Happier? Stronger and more flexible? Am I sick less? Do I have better concentration, and more curiosity? Am I easier to be around? Less angry, more willing to accommodate?

These practices can be designed to accomplish a wide variety of goals. They can replenish, repair and renew; they can energize, strengthen and empower; they can relax, center and stabilize; they can also connect, awaken and reveal. They can help us be lighter or go deeper, be more active or more restful, invigorate or meditate.

At a physical level, the Yoga methods are much more than mere muscle stretches, strengtheners or toning techniques. They have a powerful influence on the organs, glands, nervous system, and all physiological systems of the body. There is not a life function or body part that is beyond the beneficial reach of yoga.

For those of us at mid-life and beyond, our fulfillment is more than a good physique. Physical well being is only the foundation. Our wellness is as much a state of bodymind balance that we actively cultivate, as it is a state of genetic grace. Yogic methods are not just physical practices, but psychophysical techniques that can support and transform us in extraordinary ways. Done with full awareness, they can have an enormous positive impact on emotions, moods, concentration, perception, mental acuity, and overall sense of happiness and wellbeing.

As a result we can actualize an amazing variety of benefits within the scope of a fairly simple selection of practices.
How well we appreciate and enjoy the final half or third of life depends as much on our attitudes toward aging and longevity as the quality of our health and wellbeing. Whether we need more vitality or better sleep, deeper rest or more energy the Yoga can bring enormous benefit when practiced on a regular basis.

Beyond the physical techniques of yoga is a whole world of extremely powerful, subtle, profound and sophisticated ideas and practices for living a full and rewarding life. Yogic philosophy integrated with Buddhist principles provides a very real, workable alternative to the habitually limiting mental discourse that so many of us are itching to move beyond.

When subtle insights from both Yoga and Buddhism are combined and actualized, new possibilities occur that are enormously helpful in deepening the effects of practice and expanding Yoga into an extremely positive and beneficial way of life – not just for ourselves but for all those we have contact with.