|Photo by Susan Crowder|
One reason I am inspired to write about my yoga practice now is the surprising progress I have made in the past year or so. Poses that I thought were simply out of my reach – lotus, backbend and handstand – have become a regular part of my practice. Beyond that, I have begun to feel the grip of decades-long patterns of tightness in my shoulders and hips start to loosen, allowing me to open up more and even begin to think about improving my posture, something that has long seemed a hopeless case. And my feet and toes have started to get flexible as well – reversing a trend of recent years toward more and more painful walking in ugly shoes. At the age of 64, this is pretty exciting stuff!
What explains this progress, and what is its significance? On one level, it is all about the practice – steady, near daily over the past six or seven years – and the incremental yet not insignificant progress one can attain with that. At the same time, looking back, I can see that my limited expectations were helpful. I won’t pretend that my ego is not engaged in how well I am able to perform the various asanas, particularly in comparison to people who seem close to my age. But because I am much older than most people I practice with, it has been relatively easy to accept the idea that my practice will always be comparatively limited and age-appropriate. So, the environment has supported me in cultivating non-attachment, and the practice has rewarded my patience. . . . which, Rumi suggests, practice will do in the long run:
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.
“The Sunrise Ruby,” in Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi, p. 101.