In my opinion, Baby Boomers are a seriously under-served population when it comes to yoga. Because I work predominantly with this population, I have heard over and over how challenging it is to find classes and studios that suit this group as they mature into their sixties and seventies. In my private yoga business and as a Director for Inner Power Yoga, it is a major priority to reach baby boomers and spread awareness of how essential yoga is for this generation, but also why that is beneficial for those generations beneath them. So here is a little shout out to my favorite group of clients and how and why I reach them!
Layer after layer, detail after detail, we reduce our habit of relating to the identity of the ego and rid ourselves of the myriad things that keep us from seeing the Ultimate Truth. To do this, we must learn to let go. I heard Rod Stryker say once that until you can burn your own house down, you will never truly be free. In other words, as long as we feel our survival depends on factors of the external world, we deny our connection to the Infinite (and thus, deny ourselves liberation). Like Arjuna in The Bhagavad Gita, we need to cultivate Inaction In Action: to find a passionate and meaningful way of moving through our experience on earth with dispassion, detached from the outcome of our choices. We must consistently invite and create peace—moment to moment: in order to be free, we must practice Vairagya.
Out of everything that comprises this amazing infinitely intelligent being, every nuance and fiber and charge, how we choose to see our Self is based on one little sliver of imagined potential physical perfection: one two-dimensional, well-angled, glam-lighted, white-smiled version? Talk about narcissistic!
It’s like there is a tiny perfect hippie sitting in lotus pose on my shoulder. Drinking tea (not coffee) and dressed in hemp, or lululemon, she whispers to me: Don’t let your kids eat that! You’re poisoning yourself! That causes cancer! That ruins the environment! Those chemicals will make your children barren! You aren’t doing enough! You don’t practice enough! You are a horrible yogi if you do that!
What’s Skinny ever given me (other than hunger)? She serves as a comparison that in no way gives me real perspective. She distracts me from feeling. She makes me feel bad. She makes me feel anxious. She fills me with dread. And like a bad relationship that has gone on too long, I see all of this so clearly and wonder “what the hell am I doing?!” With sound mind I can see that I need to break-up with Skinny.
Tantric philosophy teaches that there is no separation between the material world and the spiritual realm. That is, we are all inherently divine. Does that feel light to you? I’ll repeat it. YOU ARE DIVINE: a part of God, every particle in the Universe. As such, we are a part of everything that exists on earth, we are the earth.
I am reminded by you that I can be the salve to this body, which has gone through so much, given and offered beyond what can be expected, delivered me where I'm needed. It's such a simple thing really, to decide to love and comfort and condition myself and the state of my body...but it still feels hard and complicated. So I say to myself, today and tomorrow: "You are not a slave: you are the salve." And I'll breathe. And I'll think of you.
ou know that phrase, sort of out-dated now: "It's all good!" !?!? Well, I think that is actually a perfect way to keep the mind and body of our judgement and un-helpful points of view! Even though I'm labeling it good--it is a mellow good. It feels more positive than saying "it is what it is," which has a begrudging level of acceptance. I find that when frustrated due to circumstances out of my control, or when my body doesn't want to move in the way I want it to, or when I have chosen a behavior or habit that doesn't benefit me: it's all good. In the next moment, around the next bend, in the next lifetime...it's all good. My strength today--all good. My diet today--all good. My battle with pain--all good. Try adding a shrug, just for fun.
Here is another truth I cringe to write…I feel pressure as a yoga teacher to be an example. I was hesitant to attend yoga classes in town because I thought my students and peers would think I wasn’t a very good yogi—all chunky and broken, bottle-feeding, gasp! To be fair, it isn’t totally in my head. I could give you examples of the things people say to me at times, inadvertently confirming I am to be held to a higher standard. I see how other teachers present themselves; I know how I can judge them. I ADMIRE the yoga celebs that cop to drinking wine, eating meat, or struggle with self-image. Yet, I wanted to be a shiny beacon that said “look at what yoga can do for older mommas!”…and I have felt like a total failure in that regard! I haven't felt like the mommy warrior, the leader, the tree.
I have some theories from where this need to be busy stems…maybe it is our sub-conscious desires to avoid responsibility, to feel needed and accomplished, to feel purposeful and important. Whatever the root is, I want to tell you, it’s probably not as much out of your control as you think. What I mean is, most of us don’t need to be as busy as we are. At this point in my life, I find myself wondering, as someone exasperatedly sighs as they regale their very busy weekend, full of social events and commitments, running from place to place, commenting on how draining it was and how the children are now spent…what’s that all about? Then DO LESS!
I realize that the difference between the very human me and the yogi me is not that I am free of struggle or frustration, it’s that I now know how to slide back into the current again. I can identify when I’m clinging too deeply to the illusions of control and surrender to what actually is before me. And even if I cannot quite see that through my tears, then someone close to me has learned to turn me back around. This has been the true gem I’ve discovered, yogis. My friends and loved ones have so thoroughly accepted my yogic ways and perspectives, they no longer separate me from that. (so in fact, to them, there is no fight between the human and the enlightened, I am both.)
My point is--this practice, it takes practice. No matter what we are going through we need to CONSISTENTLY remind ourselves to release attachments and emotion and embrace the journey of the moment. To remember the sun, although hidden by the clouds, is still up there--it's still hot, it's still bright, it's still giving life and energy and direction to the universe. Even though right now we can't see it or feel it, we know it is there providing. No doubt releasing attachments is not easy--especially when faced with things we cannot "control." But guess what? That's when the most beautiful and sublime growth occurs! When we allow the natural rhythms of our desires to lead us and succumb to the teachings our experiences offer, we are whole and balanced and truly alive.