Fountain of Youth: Yoga, and…

I love this letter to the editor in the September issue of Yoga Journal, titled fountain of youth:

I have been teaching yoga for 25 years and have been a hatha yoga student for 45 years. In addition, I am a “gym rat”, having worked out for more than 30 years and taught weight training and cardio classes, as well. Both methodologies have contributed equally to my vitality, good health, and viability. I am 76 years old. Free-weight training, repetitive abdominal exercises, and the use of machines that can target specific musculatures that yoga cannot are important for physical stability, but yoga is essential for keeping the body and mind flexible, strong, and at peace. All of the above have been my fountain of youth, and I could not forgo any of these disciplines and still feel physically, mentally, and spiritually fulfilled. 

Amen, sistah. I’m hoping that I will be talking the same talk when I am 76, because this is the approach I subscribe to as well. And I have to say…I feel damn good. I adore my “gym rat” days: twice a week I take a hardcore spin class and work out with a trainer afterwards. I consider my outdoor time, usually in the form of hiking or horseback riding, a workout. And of course, I practice yoga. Flashback to when I owned a yoga studio, and lots of my students asked me, “So should I only do yoga?” When my answer was no, keep doing everything else you love to do and yoga will help you do it better, I swear some of them looked disappointed.

I can relate to the yoga-obsessed. When something makes you feel so good, you want to do it all the time. I’ve had my ups and downs over the years with my practice, and I will freely admit to anyone that asks: I don’t do yoga every day. And I dare say, my asana practice is probably stronger because of that, and because of everything else I do. Cue the balance buzzword.

Sometimes, I feel that twinge of guilt – residue from my bygone Ashtanga days – for not getting on my mat every single day. I wonder what my practice could look like if I did – would I be a kick-asana yoga rockstar, or would I just have more back trouble…? Having entered my 40s feeling healthier than I ever have, I think that I know by now what my body needs and what makes my well-being thrive. I’m with 76 year old Irma from New York, on the fountain of youth. Namaste.

Pictured: a little yoga at Lava Lake, a 6 mile hike with 1,200 feet elevation gain. I’d call that a workout, wouldn’t you?