Many years before yoga, lifting weights was one of the few activities I could do and be fully present (although I didn’t use that term at the time). I challenged myself every time I lifted a dumbbell or a barbell; it took all my concentration. I’ve always approached it this way. This is fun for me, believe it or not! And It turns off my monkey brain. I can be in the NOW. No analysis of yesterday. No worry of tomorrow. I can forget whatever else is going on in my life and come back to it all later, refreshed. Besides, angst can make for a fantastic workout!
I decided years ago that weight training was the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth. It strengthens muscles, increases bone density, can have an impact on cardiovascular health, depending on your practice. These are all things we tend to lose as we age.
Sidebar: I worked with a guy in my 20s, with whom I had many conversations about the benefits of weight training (I was pretty hard-core, at this point). This guy was not only not hard-core; I don’t think he’d ever set foot in a gym. He was also the most methodical person I have ever met (an excellent trait in a collections officer).
Which brings me to my point (finally!). He agreed with me about the fountain of youth. His plan was to start lifting weights when he turned 40. He reasoned that this was when the human body began to degenerate and so what better time to start lifting weights? I always found this peculiar, yet so in keeping with who he was as a person. I’ve mentioned this little anecdote many times over the years and it always makes me smile.
Back on track now.
What weight training doesn’t necessarily improve though, is mobility. If you focus exclusively on building muscle, you can lose mobility. There are plenty of muscle-bound gym rats walking around. And they just don’t look comfortable to me (and somehow, I doubt that’s what they’re going for).
I always included some stretching in my workouts, and I’ve been blessed with a natural flexibility (which I’ve learned can also be a curse, but that’s for another blog post).
And then I discovered yoga. OK, it was many, many years later but again, I digress. Yoga helps develop mobility and flexibility. And yoga, all by itself, also develops strength. It’s a weight bearing exercise, after all. Yoga might also be a fountain of youth, physically speaking. And yet, yoga is so much more than all of that. It too helps me turn off my monkey brain. I can find stillness and calmness. Again, I can just be in the NOW.
Physically I get very different things out of these two practices. And ironically, I get many of the same mental and emotional benefits from them. Who would have thought?
So, I’ve changed my thinking a little bit. I think this combination of practices might be my fountain of youth. At any rate, I certainly intend to find out!
Have you identified your fountain of youth? Does yoga play a role in yours, too?
I just had a birthday. Coincidentally, I was out of the country on the big day. February is a great time to get away when you live in Ottawa. By this time of the year, I’m just at the point I’m not sure I can stand another day of winter hurting my face.
I’m not from here, you see. They don’t have winter where I’m from (sorry, PNW peeps, but it’s true), so I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I came here. But in fact, the weather had little to do with why we chose to go this year after 4 years without a winter getaway.
This was a milestone birthday for me. A pretty big milestone. The kind that people like to make a big deal out of. And I didn’t want a big deal made of it. So, it was no coincidence that I was out of the country on the big day. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it, to be honest, and I just didn’t want to deal with it in public. I wanted a quiet celebration with my husband. In a place where winter couldn’t hurt my face for a few days.
And that was exactly what I got. It was lovely. We relaxed, had some adventures, ate great food, read and relaxed on the beach. I largely managed to escape getting sunburned. And I enjoyed the Facebook, email, and text message birthday wishes from afar.
And it really didn’t bother me too much, this milestone birthday. In fact, I think all the previous milestone birthdays (yes, even my 25th!) made me more uncomfortable. Which I thought was kind of interesting.
Maybe not so strange though. I spent a good part of my younger years feeling like a fraud. I actually said these words on more than one occasion. I felt like people were going to somehow realize that I was faking it all along. I’m not really who you think I am and one day its all going to come to light, whatever “it” is.
Of course, I wasn’t a fraud. I think maybe I just didn’t know who I was. As part of all this milestone birthday self-analysis I realized recently that this feeling has disappeared. And its been gone for a while now. I’ve been slowly figuring out who I am. I’ve given myself the space and opportunity to do some deep thinking and have made some pretty significant changes in my life that better allow me to be me and to be comfortable in my skin.
Yoga has played a huge role in all this. I’ve had some very important mentors at key points in my life who helped me to learn how to be present and observe rather than react. It’s a practice and it doesn’t come easy. I have to keep at it. But the insights I’ve been able to gather from the practice have led me to understand how changing what I do allows me to better reflect who I am. I am a strong woman, a business owner, a yoga teacher, and now a yoga studio owner.
And many, if not most, of these insights would only come with time. Sometimes I think I might be a slow learner (ha!) but then again, until I had certain experiences, I couldn’t possibly have gotten to the place I am now.
A few years ago, a friend of mine corrected one of our colleagues when he mistakenly took two years off her age in an offhand comment. “Don’t take those two years away from me. I earned them!” she responded. At the time, I just filed it away, but the comment came back to me recently.
She’s right. She did earn those years. And so did I. So do we all. It’s a much more beautiful way of looking at it. I earned each and every one of these years. And I’m proud of it! Happy birthday to me.
What milestone birthday insights have you had?
Well, he was on board once we got beyond the idea that I was taking over half of “his mancave”. A point with which I take exception by the way: that part of the basement was a family room.
Once you give this guy a project, he gets right into it. And he loves to design with me…especially over a nice bottle of red. In truth, this is really when my involvement in many of these projects peaks. That and decorating. Of course (I like to say).
Designing with my handy hubby is lots of fun. We have different ideas, see different opportunities, and almost invariably one’s ideas are made better by suggestions and ideas of the other. We do good work together.
The studio was a labour of love, and it shows. The studio design takes the overall rustic look of the original mancave and family room and extends it. The basement had a brick wall running the length of one side of the house, barnboard window wells and a reclaimed wood mantel over the fireplace.
All the colours in the space were chosen based on the colours in the brick: dark grey paint and stain accents and a pale lavender primary wall shade (which oddly, isn’t at all weird in the mancave!).
This worked perfectly with the yoga props that I happened into, and a theme was born. The Yoga Walls complement the existing stain; shutters and shelving to house the props are made of more barnboard. It is a warm, cozy, comfortable space in which to practice. And I love it.
We had our inaugural yoga class in the new space this week, and it was lovely. Interestingly, though I’ve been teaching in my home for quite some time, I was a little nervous teaching in this new space. I was surprised by that! I guess anytime you’re doing something, somehow new, that might be the case.
I also think though, that it has something to do with the fact that my handy hubby really captured “me” in his completed project. “Me on a plate” is what a chef will say about a signature dish. I think this studio might be “Me in a space.”
Teaching in that kind of a space may take a bit of getting used to.
Kali's Gift Yoga Blog
I began practicing Hatha and flow, and fell in love. Not only did my body get stronger, my mind quieted and I was better able to focus. I began to develop more steadiness and ease not only on the mat, but in the rest of my life as well.