While popular imagery makes it seem like yoga is for the young, fast and agile; mastering yoga takes the kind of calm, deliberate attention shown by mature adults.
Older people often excel at yoga because it requires a steady, disciplined approach to make progress. The person who has managed to master a career, mentor others or raise a family has already demonstrated the kind of long-term thinking and ability to delay gratification needed to learn yoga poses well.
While the aging body loses muscle mass and takes longer to recover from injuries, the mature mind is less subject to the distractions and impatience of youth. Slow recovery times necessitate not getting injured in the first place. Wisdom helps you balance taking measures to avoid injury while pushing yourself to improve.
Here are some other ways to use age to your advantage:
– Focus on what’s available to you in the here and now. Pay attention to the shape of the pose, your joints, muscles, tendons, and breath.
– Rather than going at it too hard and getting tired, carefully follow the instructions your teacher gives you. Practice these thoroughly and well.
-Repeat the pose, experimenting with the corrections your teacher gives you to make it better.
– Pay close attention to how changes to a pose influence your experience of it. Be patient. Allow yourself to perceive small differences. Practicing this way over time will help you achieve poses you might not have thought were available to you. You will more fully experience and benefit from those that are.
– After class, write down a few of the instructions that made the most sense or were most helpful to you. Keep a notebook so you can remember what you learned.
-Practice the poses on your own, using those instructions.
– Experiment with variations, such as changes in how you breathe to expand a pose, stretching a muscle a bit more. When you find the correct alignment, notice the feeling you get space opens up in your body and go deeper into a pose.
Research shows that to build any skill, you will be more productive
when you practice a little bit every day than when you practice intermittently. So practice, practice, practice and savor your progress. You earned it.