“Aging with Joy & Grace”

As soon as we are born, we are all aging but how do we age with “joy” and even “grace” ? Can we site some examples ? How does YOGA come into play ? Here we are gathering around to hear a well  articulated presentation by Will Meecham MD.  Will is a yogi and a doctor, a yoga teacher trained at Niroga who was our anatomy and physiology teacher for our year one curriculum.  Google him to find his MindfulBiology.org,  a beautiful blog site he created worth checking out for anyone interested in a different perspective as we relate to our body and …life.

I recommend reading up his articles under the system, HEART & CIRCULATION, this month being a heart health month.  He is insightful coming from a perspective of someone who did the typical and grueling med-school and practicing doctor stint and now sharing his wisdom.Aging with Joy & Grace was the title to last weekend’s yoga therapist training. Among some 50? attendees finding mat space on the labyrinth at Oakland Peace Center. Making up this module missed last year while in Japan for my mothers birthday. Reminded how my mother would make a great guest to teach this particular module as she would make a role model for many of us. There’s gratitude always felt because it’s only because of her support system of kind social services provided to seniors in Japan. Gratitude to tradition and culture where seniors are respected for their wisdom and the frail cared for as there’s a clear acceptance that we are all aging as long as we are living. There’s no exclusion and denial of this natural stages of our lifeline. It’s okay to accept it and go with the flow while doing everything you can to tend to the temple of body, mind & spirit.

Sad to not be there this year but need this for my yoga therapist certification … long and fruitful journey I know she supports. My feelings of guilt vanished as I listened to a voice message she left on the phone unanswered (looks like she called 2 am US time, hahaha)  “you don’t have to get me any gifts as the best gift for me is to know you are happy and healthy. Be sure to take care of yourself.”

Happy Birthday Mama!

Doga = Yoga with a Dog

Smiling dogs everywhere !  Sometimes they even laugh as they play on this surf … They are very expressive beings.

Down dog with a dog 🐕 in the waves feels good 🙂 The above are photos from last Sunday walk with other paws friends. Time spent with our canine BFF got me thinking about how to better teach a dog.

Having been going mostly to teachers’ classes where one is always humbled by some other superhuman yogi flying through the air and striking a side-crow, it’s a reality check. It’s a reality to check to teach yoga to regular you and me who do yoga after work or on weekends, that is,  after caring for family members, after that snarly commute, after feeding the hungry … after that long day 9- 5 and more work, in all the roles you play and different hats you wear, to show up –  as part of the overall fitness program.  It’s not the ashram in India or a monk life in the temple in Japan shutting out the world here – to take time out for self-care to find insights from this ancient but modern practice for self- care.  It’s real and so needed so we can be fully engaged and awake and embracing of this life.  It’s a surprising reality that some people find even a Child’s pose a challenge.  But not down dog.  It’s all about which body part is in need of some TLC and recovery.

t’s actually challenging to teach in an all levels class because you have to be mindful of everyone and noticing who is not following the cues. Often the “flow” is interrupted by those who are fumbling … or worse, giving up. Looked over the divine faces attending my class for “normal folks” and in that initial exchange realized I have someone in his 20’s – a runner and in contrast a senior in her early 70’s completely new to Yoga and … all in between with various issues attending the same class ! If that’s not scary or even terrorizing, I don’t know what is – just kidding – really enjoy the mix of abilities, levels, and conditions – and seeing how to make all poses accessible to every single practitioner. My intention is earnestly just that.  I am not trying to dumb it down nor am I trying to turn off anyone – I just want everyone to get hooked the way I was …and that may mean referring to another teacher or suggesting another style more in tune with their uncovered needs.

Down dog tutorial can be helpful for those who don’t feel the joy in this pose. Often the beginners are just imitating the outward shape (and actually, down-dog is not a beginner pose …).  In a self-critiquing, or feeling rushed, they forgo accessing their own proprioception to get the best out of the pose.  If just copying the appearance of a pose, and without upper body strength, then unfortunately their wrists or their lower back and shoulders may suffer.  And breath?  What do you mean? Right.

Let’s deconstruct this pose to find more ease and freedom ❤️🐾  Your dog may not look like the dog images you see on yoga magazine covers. Your imprint may be different. But you are going to feel so much better.

Transformation

This was something I posted couple of years ago and … again and again, it’s worth revisiting … I’m merely on a cleanse currently for a mini-transformation (ironically by hitting the books for the yoga therapy program, unable to do as much yoga as I like so focused my style to Yin style, so needed stuck at a desk or car seat – stttreetch feels deliciously liberating – and Restorative – to deal with energy depletion –  and too little sweaty vinyasas opting rather for hikes/walks/dances to be outside with nature – get your Vitamin D but just on weekends – SO gained 10lbs in just one year … great.  A yoga teacher who gains 10 lbs in a year – it’s that post Freshman 10 or 20; that’s just great, right?)  but here’s a real life-changing transformation that’s inspirational that shows that one must stick with the practice:

Maybe not as dramatic, there are people transforming their health and lives all around me if I just stop to listen to their stories.  Just awhile ago, I met an older sweet gentleman at a dog park who said he lost 40 lbs thanks to the dog his wife got him.  He walks his dogs 3 times a day to get back the health he lost after he retired upon which he ate too much and sat around too much watching screens and reading … Now, he walks and eats healthy.

So Yoga helps with body awareness and transformation … and sets up for preparation to engage more fully with other activities off the mat.  That’s been my experience.

Authur’s transformation is a promo for Diamond Dallas, a professional wrestler turned yoga teacher, and it’s inspirational.  In America, maybe certain zip codes area, yoga appeared to be for the white privileged trustafarians in full clad latest yoga gear and practicing for hours before their vegan luncheon but is that the luxury afforded to the other 99%?   Real yoga is not competitive sports nor a spectator sports – it’s not oneupmanship contest, gymnastics or acrobatics or ballet-ish at all.  We surrender our ego on that mat.

The practice that’s regular and repetitive is so that off the mat, you can live fully engaged and in joy.  AND that means offering yoga for those who stands to benefit the most from.  It’s the kind of yoga accessible  and beneficial to all.  I appreciate how my school was all about making yoga accessible to all and in any zip codes.  The vision of Niroga Institute, Oakland. Niroga  Institute. While it’s unfortunate that they are no longer offering the 800 hrs. Yoga Therapy TT, I count my blessing that I was able to reap the rewards of advanced training in their final full two-year course.  I learned so much and really see how ridiculous and audacious I was when I thought I could teach at just 200 hrs. level 7 years ago – what was I thinking? Maybe rich? in life experience but lacking in depth.  No wonder I lacked confidence as ignorance was a bliss back then.

So much I have learned; so much still digesting and integrating; so much more to learn.  It’s life-long.  This thing about being a student and the best teachers are, they say, best students, right?

DD is so funny … “Yoga for Normal People”?  Yes, normal people who have work, who have commute, who have a family or issues and stress.  Just normal life stress.  Someone who does not have hours to perfect a pose; someone who does not have hours to devote to a spiritual enlightenment as you are stuck in traffic to get to point A to point B, living in this area.  Yoga for normal everyday people – So needed.

Just in 60 minutes; 75 minutes; 90 minutes – showing up, we have our own unique self-care practice that works where we can allocate our attention, devotion and care.  That’s yoga today.  It works and that is enough.