I'm Jen…just like the majority of all the women born in the '70's in this country. And just like the majority of 40 something women (and yes, men) in this country, I am totally freaked out about aging. Wrinkles, grays, hormones, cellulite, fat, not being able to handle my Chardonnay…it's all terrifying. Not to mention the stress of actually being an adult responsible for other human beings (in my case two little scary terrors and one big sweet hubby).
But, aside from these fears, I have to say I actually feel…great. Greater than ever really. Sure, these things I mention above scare me if I think about it too much. But I have discovered something, just one thing that could actually be the kryptonite of the aging process. And that is DEFIANT YOGA.
I used to be a total gym rat. I spent my entire 20's and 30's in the gym, pounding away with the heavy weights, running miles and miles, spinning, spinning, and more spinning. But then after my 3rd knee surgery at the age of 39, my doctor looked me in the eye and said that I can either change my ways or schedule my knee replacement surgery in 5 years. And at that moment I knew I wanted to do everything I could to avoid another surgery. Surgery, achy knees, not being able to run after my kids…it all made me, well, depressed.
So, I begrudgingly wandered into the "soft room" at my gym. Yeah, the soft room…that's where they did this "yoga". Even the name turned me off. But after that first class I knew I had discovered something. No, I was not instantly transformed into a yogi…not at all. Like anything it's a process. I saw something in that class though. There were women of all ages in there…even women in their 70's. And you know what? They looked damn good. They had great posture and could do amazing things with their bodies. A women in her late 50's showed me how to do a handstand! Of course I couldn't even kick one leg up at that point. I will never forget that woman. She had grey hair and wrinkles…and a beautiful smile. Show me a woman in her 50's or 60's with a beautiful smile versus a woman the same age with a frozen face from Botox or plastic surgeries and tell me who is more beautiful and younger looking.
That class got me thinking that instead of slaving at the gym to try and look like the 20 year olds bopping around, maybe I should look at women older than me who are rocking their age and do what they're doing. And what they're doing is yoga. So, I checked out different teachers and I found a one who really spoke to me. She talked about body image a lot and how we have to stop being so tough on our bodies. After all, these bodies are temporary! It is what is inside that counts. We have to feed our bodies rather than starve them, overwork them, insult them, and mask them with any chemical we can get our hands on. She also told us to stop the madness going on in our heads! Stop worrying about the past because we can't change it, and to stop worrying about the future because we can't control it. Just go with it because our lives are unfolding exactly as they should and we need to appreciate every moment in this life because it is a gift. On top of everything she said, she led a really kick-ass class that had me utterly exhausted and sore (good sore) by the end. Anyone who thinks they can't get an amazing workout from yoga should think again.
After a few months, all of the mind stuff really started to sink in. I grew up a "glass is half empty" person, but through my yoga practice I am becoming a "glass is half full person!" And the icing on the cake is that yoga is making my body stronger, healthier and more flexible than when I was a gym rat. I'm doing stuff now that I could never do when I was younger…handstands, wheels, arm balances…it's crazy.
After four years of practice, I started obsessing about becoming a teacher. I wanted to share what yoga has brought me with everyone else. So now I am a yoga teacher, here to spread the word. TRY YOGA. And if you have and didn't like it, try a different class. And a different one until you find one that speaks to you.