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Here I am, on my mat, wobbling in Tree Pose; no longer a sturdy tree as I was a decade ago when I started my practice. However, I am still standing, still capable of finding a way to balance on one leg, even as my body keeps changing, and as I try to understand these changes.
It’s taken years for me to accept my body as it ages. It is a natural part of aging, and to understand that nature always changes. I love that I can still bend further backwards than I thought possible; to reach my ankles in Camel Pose. But losing my balance suddenly in Triangle, can make me feel like I’ve just received a sucker punch to the gut. Just the idea of change surprises me, even though I know that change is part of life. I know that life is change, that people change, that I change, and that the world itself changes.
Change, any kind of change, I realize now, has always made me anxious. Change makes me feel fearful and threatened. When I notice that something has changed in my practice, such as being wobbly in Tree Pose, or how I sometimes fall out of balance in Triangle Pose, I feel uneasy, distressed, and disturbed.
I keep asking myself, "Why should these changes disturb me?" Perhaps it’s because I’m afraid of the time when my body will change so much that I may not to be able to hold my balance in Tree Pose? Or even more afraid, that I might not be able to reach my ankles in Camel, or simply walk across a room?
Luckily, yoga reminds me to stay in the present and that change is a natural part of life. I can be grateful for the ability to take pleasure in the things that my body is still able to do. I need only to breathe deeply into a pose to remember that life is change, and that I am changing and evolving, just as the earth is changing and evolving.
At times like these, when I find myself wobbling in Tree Pose, I can remember my sudden ability to lift my shoulders and hips off the floor in Upward Facing Bow, a change so stunning that I can only watch in awe as it occurs.
Even the changes in my body as I grow older are stunning, part of the miracle of life. Yoga helps me remember this.
Bruce Black is the author of Writing Yoga (Rodmell Press), as well as personal essays that have appeared in Tiferet Journal, OmYoga Magazine, MindBodyGreen, and Yogi Times. His most recent story was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses.