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?
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.