Every day I thank God for the benefits of Yoga!
I’ve attended a weekly gentle yoga class at the Pink Lotus Studio (on Kings Highway in Swedesboro) for the past five years and wouldn’t miss it. My 79 year old body is more healthy and flexible than it would be had I not started the practice.
I’m frequently amazed at the condition of people who are 20 years younger. They barely get around without assistance—limping, walking with canes, using walkers, and getting knee or hip replacements.
Old age creeps up on you. Many don’t have a clue about what’s taking place. Others may casually mention one or two things they’re experiencing, but haven’t made an age/body connection.
More than a few are in total denial. Truth is, if you don’t know what’s going on, you can’t do anything about it.
Take a look at some of the signs of growing old. Many are so subtle they’re barely noticeable…at first. They hide, settle in, and become ensconced as part of our lives.
Scan your body; ask these questions. Has your energy level decreased even slightly? Is climbing stairs more difficult? Does standing from a seated position take more effort? Experiencing more aches than in the past? Stopped exercising and/or participating in sports? Feel stiff in new places? What can you add to this list?
Gentle Yoga is for all ages and addresses this downward spiral. It emphasizes stretching and strengthening the body because, as we age, stiffness and weakness sneak up on us. It’s gentle because you do only what you can do at a comfortable pace.
You gradually become aware of what’s going on in the body you’ve taken for granted. As you practice the movements, the mind becomes engaged. You learn to focus. You begin to learn what you need to do to feel better.
Strength, flexibility and mobility return. You start remembering how it used to be. And this motivates you to get to that place again.
Working out the ‘kinks’ that the body has accumulated over the years is a valuable byproduct of yoga practice. Everyone has some. Deposited from early childhood to the present, they are reactions to life’s difficulties.
As one develops more body awareness, it’s important to identify the sources of discomfort. These ‘kinks’ cause stress that lodge anywhere in the body.
That stiff neck can be a result of internalized hurt and anger in response to a betrayal. Tightness and shoulder aches can be caused by carrying a heavy load, such as caring for someone terminally ill.
Lower back ache can be due to the struggle to make ends meet when your mate took off leaving you and the children. Leg aches can be due to the heaviness of someone leaning on you, refusing to carry his/her own weight.
Resentment of an abusive parent can be pushed down in the feet when escape was not possible (think incest). Being afraid left a deposit that affected your breathing when you were sent to the principal’s office. Feeling tight all over is the result of a bitter, contentious divorce.
The list is endless; the causes myriad. In middle school I remember being depressed and dreading each day because of bullying. I’ve experienced other discomforts in various parts of my body for many different reasons.
And, due to their insidious nature, I have been totally unaware of their presence. Go figure.
If any of these issues resonate with you, you can be certain they’re lodged somewhere in your body and causing discomfort. Some are silent! But they all need to be worked out.
Yoga practice addresses this. It has for me. My focus and motivation has helped me get rid of negative baggage I’ve carried for years – as far back as middle school and earlier.
My balance, flexibility and mobility has improved and my overall health is better. This is why I Thank God for Yoga.
I urge everyone to release, relax and feel better in 2016. You owe it to yourself. Join a yoga class today.
If you’re near Swedesboro, I suggest you call 856-975-0789 or visit pinklotusnj.com to check the class schedules. Your body will thank you.
Myrna L. Harris
Retired Clinical Social Worker and Therapist