How to stay young?

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How to stay young?

Avoid grey and beige in your clothes.

Smile more.

Have a passion.

It’s all true, but not enough.

I don’t know at what age it starts exactly, but surely above 60, people get weaker and stiffer. It’s possible to work against this natural development: Practice yoga, do strength training and work on your flexibility.

First a bit of theory regarding strength training:

  • It’s possible to integrate it in daily life. Take the steps and not the elevator is such an example.

  • One can integrate strength training in the daily yoga practice. For instance one can lift the body into urdhva dhanurasana (bridge pose) again and again. This makes strong arms.

  • Do extra strength training. It doesn’t take long. It’s exhausting. Results can be felt quickly.

The structure of strength training:

There are repetitions and sets.

Do as much repetitions as possible minus one. In sum do 3 sets of the same number of repetitions.

First you have to find out how many reps you’re able to do. If the reps become easy add more. Ten reps could be the goal. Ten reps are also enough for beginners. More is not necessary. Belief me, sometimes 5 reps are more than enough. If 5 reps are not possible, do more sets, till 5 reps are possible.

Source: Overcoming gravity by Steven Law. I read the German edition.

Which muscles are to exercise:

A human being has 650 muscles. 50 alone are in the face. The heart muscle is a most important muscle. Muscles around the lungs allow us to breathe. The tiniest muscle is behind the ears. I saw people who could move the ears. Yes, this is funny. Think of your tongue. When we practice yoga we engage the pelvis floor.

Muscles make 40 to 60 % of the body weight of men.

Muscles make 30 to 40 % of the body weight of women.

These general statements don’t help a lot as we’re individuals, but they can give an orientation.

To simplify everything: The body has a core and limbs (arms and legs), a front side and a back side. We can exercise these body parts.

I’m sure that I haven’t been able to perform some asanas because I lacked strength. Being strong stabilizes the body, it protects us from injuries.

In comparison to cardio training it’s very rewarding as it doesn’t require much time. The strength gurus recommend to take breaks. To train three times a week could be enough. The muscles must recover from the training.

There are static and dynamic exercises.

I think this was enough theory.

I recommend doing a search on muscles and strength training. It’s a very interesting topic.

Being strong makes daily life easier. I also want to exercise my muscles because I want to perform asanas that I’m not able to do. Yet.

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The sun is shining here. I sip my second black coffee. I had a banana for breakfast. I’m more than ready for the day.

My yoga niche

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There are so many excellent yoginis on that globe who share their knowledge for free, that I wondered if I can still add something to that huge knowledge available for everybody. I think I can. My back injury a few years back was a cut in my life and in my yoga practice. I had to step back, I had to reflect on what I was doing, I cursed a lot. I was disappointed. It would have been too easy to blame others. Finally I realized that I’m responsible for myself. I love the Ashtanga yoga system, but I also became more open for other styles, too. In the last year I bought a membership at the Sivananda yoga school in Munich. I’ve been there several times. It inspired me and I could make changes in my own practice. What exactly this is will be a topic in posts to come. I know that I have to listen to my body much more than I did. Rules can guide but one must break the rules if they are not useful. I adjust my practice to my needs and not to the rules. I developed a critical mind. Another huge topic of the last years was the method. How can I learn new asanas safely and effectively.

I don’t want to forget that yoga is a life style. What we eat is important. A simple life style fits to a yogini.

My niche:

  1. I’m 60 now. A body with 60 is different than a body with 30 or 40, 50 or younger.. To learn new asanas takes more time. To heal from an injury takes longer. To get stronger and more flexible takes more time, too. It is said that older people lose flexibility and strength. This is true. The more important it is to work on strength and flexibility, perhaps even in special sessions. When I return to my practice after a break it’s harder than it used to be a decade ago. I get overstretched much faster. What can we older yoginis do to practice safely will be a topic. Additional strength training is a good advice for everybody, but especially for people above 60.. Yoga with 60 and above is my niche.

What I have learned during my injury can also be important for younger people. What is important for an older person can also be an advantage for a younger person. It’s the future for everybody to get older.

The very first advice is to take care not to have too long breaks. Practicing sun salutations and a few asanas and a short closing sequence is better than nothing. Between doing nothing and a long exhausting yoga practice are many possibilities.

Keep practicing.

Take short breaks. To have a day off during a week is great. The body also needs to relax. My experience is that a break that lasts a week is too long. Then it becomes hard again to practice. Most of the time I overstretch slightly. I want to avoid this. Observe yourself. Get to know yourself. What is best for me needn’t be the best for you. Not every practice must be super exhausting. Sometimes it’s OK to take it easy. Being playful is great.

Soon a new decade will start. I’m so excited.

Only one more week

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Only 6 more days and a new decade begins. We have exciting times. I’m sure a lot will change again within the next 10 years. It’s important to have rituals or practices that anchor us.

For me my yoga practice is my lynchpin. It gives me a lot. It calms the mind. It keeps the body strong and flexible. It supports me in staying healthy. It’s a guide through life. A yoga practice betters every day.

There are so many fancy asanas to learn. I balance my ambition with attention towards my body. Sometimes a step back is better than ignoring signs of exhaustion of the body. Every day is different. Sometimes limits seem to be blown away. Sometimes almost nothing seems possible.

To exercise observing what is, is a technique that one can apply, too. It’s easy to judge. It’s a thinking habit that we exercise all the time. What do I like? What do I not like? What is good? What is bad? We know answers almost at once. This is fine. Yet one can also exercise another skill: observing. It broadens the possibility of the mind. It’s sort of flexibility of the mind.

Even our Madonna came to the conclusion that her body needs a break due to an injury. Not to listen to the body could make everything worse. When Madonna uses the word pain on Instagram, I know that she means pain. Hopefully she’ll feel better soon. Those who love to move, miss it a lot, when it’s not possible to move or to work out.

I could practice today. The thoughts: Every day is better with a yoga practice. It gives energy. It’s love that I give myself.

Back to elaborated routines

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I love to travel. It’s always inspiring to observe how other people live. In South Africa is summer time, so this trip to this most beautiful country made the winter shorter. I also don’t need the hectic that I experience here before Christmas. Everybody seems to be downtown to shop. Often discounts are offered when you buy even more stuff in another departments. To sum it up: I had very happy days in Cape Town. The sun was shining. The wind was blowing. The people were friendly.

This time I keep practicing, I thought. A few times I practiced, but most days I didn’t. Hotel rooms are often too small. I could have put my mat in the tiny corridor. On the right side would have been the bathroom. I was conscious that this was the entrance, nobody puts off the shoes there. I was not invited to practice. It tells me that it’s important to have a clean place. To take care of the environment and to keep it clean and simple is important.

I’m back since yesterday and I can reestablish my elaborated routines. I get up at a decent hour, that is 6am or 7am and prepare a cup of coffee for myself. I sip my coffee while writing my journal. After a while I feel awake. In the meantime my dear E is up, too and we have breakfast together. Usually I have some fruit and soy yoghurt, 2 or 3 nuts, oat flakes and a tiny spoon crushed flaxseed. I don’t practice at once after breakfast, but as it is a tiny breakfast I feel ready to bend and twist.

It’s not the early morning when I step on my mat, but it’s still before lunch time.

After every break I usually overstretch my hamstrings. Back bending feels nightmarish. I curse. I regret not having practiced more often. I try to take it easy. The breath is important, I tell myself, not the fancy asanas. But I like the fancy asanas. Next time I’ll practice more often I promise myself. Will I?

What counts is NOW. I’m looking forward to my probably exhausting practice. I’ll curse because I got so weak and stiff. I admire all yoginis who keep practicing also when traveling. For me it’s hard.

I know that I’ll be more than happy after having practiced.

Important is to return to the mat, again and again. So, don’t give up. I won’t give up either. Soon a new decade will begin. This is super motivating. :)

Thank you for the likes on Facebook. Thank you for reading. This is motivating to keep writing.