Don't laugh. Seriously. The struggle is real. Somedays more than others. I am not twenty anymore and somedays I feel that truth more than others. This year I have made a commitment to practice more yoga on a regular basis. Sadly, my practice has been intermittent at best over the last seven years as my training business has increased, which is a good thing, but I need a dedicated time for me to reconnect. I face the same challenges as you all do. Scheduling and making time for my own workouts, even though I spend my days at the gym, can be harder than you think. So, in order to practice what I preach, I have cleared my Friday morning for Hot Yoga, my true fitness, mind/body/spirit love. Let me tell you, I LOVE this class! My teacher is amazing and I crave that hour on the mat. Yoga is the one format that I do not teach and will not teach. Selfishly, I want to remain the student.
Last Friday, I approached my mat with this thought at the forefront of my mind.
"The struggle is real." Not exactly how I planned to kick off my hour of zen and "harness my CHI" as my friend says. It was going to be one of those days... I am not who I once was. My body is not what it once was. Stiff and tired, I began to move through the vinyasa, with this chorus of thought in my head about how I used to be able to do this or that aspect of the practice. It took me the entire sixty minutes of class to let it go. Surrender that mental chatter on the mat and leave it there. I am not who I once was. So what? My body is not what it once was. And I am ok with that.
With each downward facing dog, I found gratitude for each and every change in my body and my life, even if my ego wanted to taunt me into some self deprecating spiral. I wasn't going to take the bait. So what if I couldn't do Side Crow or Flying Splits? I was glad to be able to simply be there in this moment breathing. For me, the practice has evolved into a space of grace, that I gift to myself. An hour in which I can set my mind right, get clear and focus on the good. The flow of a yoga practice releases the mental stagnation of clinging to the illusion of what was. With each pose, the body urges the mind forward to be present and FEEL WHAT IS NOW. It is our ego, our relational mind that chains us to expectation, comparison and judgement. What we chase is the memory of felling good in our "glory days". That feeling is alive and can be yours now.
I acknowledge and understand that the struggle is real to accept and love ourselves as we are. Choose to let it go. Choose to evolve and grow into who you are in the now. We fear aging. We fear changing. If I am honest, I wouldn't go back to being twenty, even if it meant I had more stamina and less injury than I do now. What I have gained is wisdom. What I have gained is peace. If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be to relax, chill out, trust the process and for God's sake be PATIENT.
What I can encourage you to do is be the best version of you NOW. Tomorrow that will change. And so it will again the next day. Don't hold yourself back to a yesterday that is over. Heal what needs healing. Strengthen and feed what empowers you body and soul and watch the miracle of your life unfold.
The struggle is real if you give over to it and let it define you. The struggle is only real if you repeat day in and day out what no longer serves you.
My yoga teacher asks us each week, "What are you feeding yourself 24/7?" Garbage in garbage out. Feed your mind and your body that which nourishes your soul. I can tell you that each Friday I show up and I face myself on that mat and after sweating for sixty minutes in that room that is hotter than hell, I feel cleansed. Soaked like a wet rag, I feel wrung out and purged of all that negative mental chatter, free and unencumbered.
Not everyone has the same goals and desires. Not everyone wants to do a Spartan Race or and Iron Man. More is not always better. Intensity is not always the answer. Do what makes YOU feel alive. What makes you feel joyful? There is a way, a path to optimal health and fitness for every one at every stage and every age. If the struggle is real for you too some days, maybe you simply need to open another door. A door that leads to your authentic self in this moment.