A full primary feels so good after taking it easy for 2 days. My tongue accident was an excuse to take 2 Swenson specials at home because I practiced saying hello at the mirror and you could see my tongue, so that was that.  So I am going to go ahead and say it: I am joining the opinion of others who find that a 50 plus change year old body is way more happy and willing when there is an extra break in the 6 day week practice. Some of you will say, but ah, you sacrifice the opportunity to progress/advance/improve. Which is where I have the chance to ask my first question: I read Tim Miller’s post last Tuesday and I also read John Scott’s interview which was shared on several FB walls and the both talk about backing off because of their ages. So, am I being over optimistic when I think I am in the  will I get new poses lane? I mentioned somewhere else that March is my Ashtanga Anniversary. I started practice at 50 and this will be year six. I just want to hang on to and maybe polish some parts of primary. Does that mean goofing off? Question number 2: I got another chance to see David Robson’s video about “Hamsters” and I completely understand his point, but what if you have a hamster in your belly already instead of on top of your thighs (if you are curious enough you will look up the clip)?? Yes this is a menopausal question. I don’t care if right now you have steel abs, you will get a tummy when you get old and it is not the end of the world so this is a fair question. If both bandhas are engaged but there is extra body mass between your thighs and your bandhas is there a risk for vertebrae/disk damage?

14 thoughts on “Questions

  1. you know where I fall on this topic…and yeah, getting a tummy is definitely not the end of the world 🙂

    I don’t know the hamster clip so will now go google.

  2. OMG the hamster thing is hysterical must share.

    Meanwhile….I’m reaching 48. Feeling better every year, not less. Not sure where the event horizon is for me, but I’m hoping it’s far away. If not, I’ve lost my asana practice completely before (the IUD debacle of 2009-2011) so I think I can deal with it with some equanimity when it does happen, eventually.

    I’d like to hear from other women. I know that Nancy Gilgoff says she feels stronger and stronger every year she does this. She’s at least 60, yes? And Beryl Bender Birch is feeling BETTER after her second hip replacement, she reported to me, too. I know Beryl modifies her practice, but I’ve never seen Nancy practice so I have no idea what she does in terms of daily practice. Guessing Primary and Second and maybe some advanced. But, after a while I think, as PJ said, Advanced is really for demonstration only.

      • ❤ 🙂 I feel like newbie, still – certainly, still hoping this is the year when I can come up from drop backs without cheating (i.e. rocking and pushing off the wall/stacked blocks) or using another human! We all have our little goals, but I think the real fun arises in the exploration along the way, and really the goals aren't as important. It's action, effort, as the Gita suggests, that makes us truly alive. I have a 73 year old student who amazes me, comes regularly, and who improves every year. I figure, why not, maybe if he's actually getting stronger and more flexible doing this (he started at 70) than that means I have another couple of decades to work on this, too.

  3. nancy is 65 or 66 i believe. I am 60. Had been feeling pretty good though i only practice primary and some bits of second but am in the middle of some other emergencies that have caused me to lose my practice for a couple months for the first time in the 7 years since i started. This makes me appreciate how much my practice was doing for me and how young it made me feel both physically and mentally. Trying to get it back but will be a struggle right now. I read some of these blogs and wonder if you guys realize how blessed you are to be able to practice regularly and have the mental/emotional space to invest so much in your practice. Looking forward to getting back to whatever i have.

    • I do not mean to sound unappreciative, I just share the questions that arise in my head. I cannot imagine what a serious setback might feel like and I am grateful to appreciate the contrast between what I am as a person now to what I was six years ago. Having said that, I have seen and heard of amazing comebacks from fellow practitioners. Wishing you one of those.

    • Oh, gosh, s, I think everyone who blogs about/loves this yoga feels a level of gratitude for the ability to do their practice even if it’s just once a week. I sure do! I teach, so I must practice every day, I could not teach effectively otherwise. Plus it makes me feel better, and that is really why I feel compelled to practice. Everything is easier with daily practice to settle you into your body and connect you.

      It took me over 5 years to work up to 6 days a week, though. I started when I was 31, my youngest was 2 months old, my middle was 18 months and my oldest was almost 6. One day a week, half led primary. I added a day more of practice per week every year until I got to the “daily practice” stage. I let go of or just cut down on stuff that didn’t serve me (frivolous magazines, reality TV, shopping needlessly, Websurfing mindlessly, etc.) and made more time for what was most important to me. The only thing I regret that “gave up” in order to practice more was knitting – but figure I will start it again when my kids are all out of the house, and I am not teaching 6 days a week. There’s time for everything in this life.

      I’ve had a daily practice for over 10 years now. But, not every day constitutes 90+ minutes of kick asana (only about 3-4 do.) Between ladies holidays and moon days, it averages out to 5 days a week. Some days all I have time for is standing postures and closing. At the very minimum, I chant and sit and do a little pranayama, and don’t try to beat myself up too much if I don’t break a sweat. Those other limbs of the practice feel just as good to me now, as doing asana. Long story short, daily practice didn’t come immediately – give yourself time and remember that the practice should support your life, not take it over. Just roll out your mat without too much thought about how much you need to get done, and allow yourself to enjoy just doing a few suryanamaskar – and keep going as long as it feels good. When anxiety about life and busy-ness arises, then truly do a nice closing for yourself, and finally, rest. Even if it’s just 15 minutes total, that counts as daily practice. 🙂

  4. I started practicing at 47 and am now 56. Like Michelle, don’t see the event horizon — am moving into new territory (& not all physical) each time I visit Command Central (i.e., Mysore) which is the point in each year where I take stock of progress. It’s inspiring to see, right there at the hub, LOTS of practitioners over 40 and 50 busting out refined practices that appear to be the result of years of dedicated work. The more I go there, the more I’m convinced that what Sharath sees — more than technique or which series one is in — is how diligently each person’s been working over the past year. He’s definitely focused on the effort, not the fruit.

    • I was fervently hoping for this response to appear. I was also secretly thinking as I wrote that post if KPJAYI was a bit of a stretch for someone like me who is definitely not a type A personality ( there are like 6 or 9 non type A Ashtangis out there I am sure). So there I have it. Thank you and Michelle!

      • Not a stretch *at all*! Sharath’s tenderness with the non-type-As is… ah, even thinking of it makes my heart all mooshy. The type As (including myself) he sits back and watches as we slam our heads repeatedly into whatever wall we’ve encountered. The non-As? He’ll squat right down next to them and help. Non-As are outnumbered in Mysore, but they’re there — and envied for the obvious soft spot Sharath has for them.

      • You know what? I know exactly what you mean because I got to experience his kindness at the defunct JOIS Greenwich first hand two years ago. He got me into a backbend that I still remember, A) because I was so nervous and B) because I had never been up there before!

      • There’s more of that in Mysore, if you decide to visit. If you ever want to discuss details/logistics, IM or email me. I love talking about getting to Mysore.

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