Fitness Magazine

Friday Q&A: What Yoga for Healthy Aging Is, And What It is Not

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge

Friday Q&A: What Yoga for Healthy Aging Is, And What it is Not

Branches at Sunset by Melina Meza

Q: Thinking about it now, I decided that the “active engagement” part of our yoga for healthy aging attitude really is tapas, which means practicing for physical, emotional, and spiritual health with dedication and persistence. What do you think, Baxter?
A: Yesterday in her post Another Word for Stubborn? Tapas, Maybe?, while recounting a recent conversation we had, Nina waxed on eloquently and engagingly about some of the essential qualities of Yoga for Healthy Aging. And at one point while ruminating about “active engagement,” she posed the above question to me.
It turns out that I think a lot about what Yoga for Healthy Aging (YFHA) is, and also what it is not. As for “active engagement” and tapas, I couldn’t agree more with Nina’s assertion. But I’d like to back up and look at the bigger picture again and maybe use some slightly different language to describe my perspective.
I have to start by mentioning a fellow yoga teacher who I study with on occasion who has this interesting way of getting us to do something in class by telling us what not to do in a few different ways, then finally telling us what to do. In this same spirit, I’d like to say what YFHA is not, first, at least in my mind: YFHA is not “senior’s yoga.” It is not chair yoga. It is not Boomer yoga or AARP yoga. It is not yoga therapy. It is not prop yoga, Iyengar yoga, or yoga in the tradition of Krishnamacharya. It is not gentle or restorative yoga, yin or yang yoga. But includes all of these things, and more. If it were a Venn diagram, it would be a large, inclusive circle, inside of which all these other things would be smaller circles!
So, what is it, then? Well, it does go back to what Nina mentioned yesterday: it is really the cultivation of an attitude, one that serves your highest goals as they relate to the unfolding of your unique life, which helps to enhance and preserve your overall health—mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual. I see this attitude included the essential qualities of curiosity, mindfulness, and willfulness. Curiosity leads the followers of YFHA to look for the reality and the truth of being human, growing, aging, and changing. Out of the discoveries that curiosity provides, we can then, via mindfulness, begin to plot a course of clear action or, just as possibly, a course of graceful acceptance of those things we cannot change. Willfulness, as expressed in tapas or fiery determination, equally allows us to set goals that can lead us to healing is some instances, assist in maintaining our present level of health in others, and even guide our course to new growth and higher levels of achievement. It is the healthy, honest balance of ambition and compassion. So, as Nina so rightly suggested, YFHA’s essential attitude and guiding principles can help you find the yoga practice that best serves you each day.
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