Yoga taught me the acceptance of ageing with grace.

I have been practicing Yoga for 14 years since 2002 and what an unfolding journey of discovery it has been! Self -discovery through facing deep fears, uncovering the depths of my heart and Soul and the many layers of my relentless mind. Then, through the years of practicing and teaching Yoga, I discovered how forgiving and fragile the body truly is, most especially through the transition from my thirties to my forties.

Ego doesn’t want to let go, it is firmly attached to your youth, to being flexible and free to move without much mindfulness. The powerful nature of Yoga helps you to let go of that ego, sometimes it forces you to let go through injury. Not an ideal outcome of Yoga however nonetheless any injury becomes a blessing…it makes you more appreciative of your body and you develop a new found respect for the wonderful machine that you live in. Then there comes acceptance of not being as flexible and free to move because of the natural flow of human existence….ageing.

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I understand men feel the same as they evolve from one decade to another, yet as a woman, the process is made far more complex with ever changing hormones. As I write this, I am still fortunate in that I am yet to experience menopause or pre-menopause, time will let me know when it is my turn. Yet, since turning 40 almost four years ago, I have felt a significant change in how my body responds to a Yoga asana, (pose), practice. I find myself more challenged on the mat to hold some of the same poses I held countless time in the past, for the same length of time. I find I need to give more of my energy to the mat. The upside is good because at least I know I am fully present in the pose and I need to give it my utmost attention, more so than a decade ago. The downside… I can feel my body is ageing and it is both a traumatic and humbling experience.

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Traumatic because of the attachment to my youth and how poses were more effortless then. Traumatic because even 5 years ago, I suffered less sciatic pain, less lower back pain, less tension in my body. I can just picture so many people reading this thinking…” Wait a minute but you’re a Yoga teacher, why should you be experiencing so much pain?” The answer is… the art of ageing! Even though I practice and teach Yoga, the body evolves as it should and as much as I wish I possessed Yoga Super Powers, I do not have the power to stop the ageing process and the aches and pains that come with it. What I can do is, to try, to do the best I can, to age gracefully and mindfully. I owe immense gratitude to Yoga on my life journey for helping me to evolve from one decade of youthful bliss to another of mindful maturity.

I won’t lie to you and I won’t deny that this physical transition has come with many tears; frustration and longing for my body to stay young. It is an ongoing process on a day to day basis but I am so grateful that I have come to this realization and admittedly, heart breaking acceptance because if my Yoga journey had not given me this, I would be in a very dark place now and, moving forward into my late forties, with the promise of hormonal change, I would find myself in a world of complete denial.

I am deeply inspired by my fellow friends who have shared their path of transition stories with me and have such respect for your fortitude. There is an incredible gift to ageing…..wisdom and a discovery of inner strength that surpasses your youthful imagination of what it really means to be strong.

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I wanted to write this because for those in my age group and older who know all too well what it feels like, and for those still in the bliss of body youth, there is no shame or fear to reveal what an emotionally charged and physically trying time it is to grow older. The key is to accept gracefully how the body changes by treating your body with the respect and love it needs to change. To accept that where you are in your Yoga practice from one year to the next, from one decade to the next, is where you are meant to be at that given time and that is your Yoga! So, please, enjoy it, each and every year of it!

Much love,
Juanita.

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