Yoga at Midlife and Beyond

Yoga is a homecoming, a coming home—to ourselves.

We all want that, no matter what our age. For most of us at midlife and older, our parents have passed on or are in a frail condition; they are not the same people we grew up with. We can no longer return to the childhood home where we grew up. But we can recreate —internally— the feelings of safety, comfort and contentment that we experienced. If we didn’t experience these feelings growing up, we can recapture those times in our lives when we did feel safe and sound. Perhaps you felt it reading on your favorite grandparent’s lap, or building a sand castle at the beach, or in a secret hideout in your backyard.

The first time I did yoga, I walked into a small studio bathed in white. Something about the atmosphere made me feel relaxed and calm—even before I did any postures. It was a difficult time in my life. I needed peace and a respite from a set of family problems. I walked in feeling uptight and edgy. When I walked out after class, I was in another place. The problems were still there but they didn’t seem as bad. They felt more distant. And I was less emotional about them.

When I do yoga I feel as though I’ve come home. It doesn’t matter where I do it. I am home. Yoga helps us feel comfortable in our own skin. We’re past the age of trying to impress others. We don’t need to conform to be part of a group. We just want to be ourselves, and act and respond out of our own authenticity.

Yoga means union, or to unite or come together. We can interpret that in many ways. Some believe it means union with God or a higher power. Others say yoga occurs when our attention is directed only toward the activity we are engaged in.

For me, the union or the wholeness is internal: feeling at one with myself. When I feel this way, I’m better able to meet the crises and challenges that are a natural part of living. I can handle difficult situations with more confidence, because I am connected to my inner voice and respond from my core, rather than being unduly influenced by those around me. My practice keeps me centered and steady.

You may think that by the time you’re 50, you’re already at peace with yourself. But that‘s not necessarily so. Many of us have conflicts and regrets at this age. We think, I would have, could have, should have done this or that. Some of us have issues from childhood that have never been resolved.

And then things happen that throw you off kilter: your best friend moves across the country, a child or grandchild gets sick, your marriage dissolves. These situations would challenge anyone. But when you’re doing yoga regularly, you’re able to meet situations like these with more composure and poise. You recover faster and lose your equilibrium less easily and less often.


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