Look at the forest. We walk through it every day and believe it to be the same forest. But not a single leaf is the same as yesterday. Every particle of soil, every plant and animal, is constantly changing. You cannot be enlightened as the separate person you see yourself to be because that person has already disappeared, along with everything else from yesterday.
-- Buddha, by Deepak Chopra
Sitting in the front seat of the front car of the boomer generation train, this is what I’ve figured out about getting older. Our bodies, our minds, our interests, our abilities, all are changing. It is undeniable. The body is really slowing down – whether it begins to happen at forty-five or at sixty-five, it happens. Our perspective changes, our passions fluctuate. The change is irrefutable and the longer we resist noticing the more out of touch we are with our whole process of personal evolution. We are supposed to change, everything in the world of form changes – things come into existence and things go out of existence and we will all pass along the paths of life. It’s not depressing. It’s life. It can be difficult or easy. Only one thing determines which it will be – our own resistance or compliance. The choice is ours.
Every moment is an opportunity to choose – to join in, or to put up our hands and push against the flow. What I’ve found is that if you resist, you miss out on the whole reality of life. If you comply, you join in the flow, and you can even direct the rudder as to which direction you’d like to go. By not resisting I don’t mean you just accept any injustice, any abuse, or any illegal act that comes your way. But until you get present with whatever is going on, you can’t do anything about it. Accepting what is, simply because it is, and then doing the work for transformation, moment by moment, day by day, is the way of true yoga. It creates greater happiness, contentment, better health, and lower blood pressure!! But the first step to equipoise is to be present all the while with each moment, as it is.
Getting our attention in present time is the fundamental teaching of classical yoga. The practice is a complex and brilliant methodology that goes way beyond simply exercise and practice of the postures. Boomer Yoga, based on the classical yoga methodology, is a very simple, tangible set of instructions and a guide map that leads progressively from movement through breathing to meditation and ultimately arrives at the unspeakable experience of true yoga, a moment of boundlessness, connectedness, and bliss – truly. It is yoga for grown-ups, yoga for people who have experienced life in all its colors and dimensions.
Yoga starts, for most of us, with what is called asana, (pronounced ahhh’ sana). The Sanskrit word asana refers to the practice of the yoga postures and there is plenty of research now to show that a regular asana (as well as pranayama practice -- which refers to the movement of prana, or “lifeforce” through breath control) practice can help to lower blood pressure, increase circulation, ease stress, alleviate the symptoms of arthritis and osteoporosis, reduce back and joint pain, etc, etc.
If we are tight, from life or a life of athletics, the physical exercises might be a little difficult when we start out, but overall it feels good and gets easier as we go along. If we continue to practice, the mental training-tools that accompany this seemingly innocuous “exercise” teach us to focus and pay attention. However, unlike many other forms of exercise, this isn’t a mindless activity. When we go to yoga class, our teachers tell us to listen to our breath, to hold a steady gaze, and to pay attention to our physical alignment, all of which sets us up to pay attention to the present moment.
What happens from this attentiveness training? It changes us – for the better. There is no other way to say it. The focus on mindfulness brings us into the only reality that there is, the NOW – and gets us out of our endless mental chatter and activity of plans, lists, and uncertainties about our escapades of yesterday and tomorrow. It feels good! For the hour that we have been in our yoga class, or practicing on our own at home (or with the book, Boomer Yoga) we’ve been “here,’ and pretty much not worrying about our troubles, our finances, our regrets, our fears, our families, and so on. We’ve had a moment of peacefulness, of what we could call aware presence, or really being in touch with ourselves and the world around us. And after a few months of practicing, we slowly start to realize that just by doing this yoga stuff we are moving towards a calmer, more centered, more content place in our lives.