By Jaime Scates Schmitz from LiveLoveFlowYoga.com
When Tony first asked me to do a piece for FitAfterFifty.com I was reticent: #1, I’m not 50 or even that close and #2, I cringe a bit whenever someone refers to me as a fitness guru . . . I am not.
In response to #1, I thought ‘What the heck do I know about being fit after fifty?’ And in response to #2, barring a car falling on my child, you will probably never see me lift a heavy thing.
I pushed through resistance item #1 when I thought of my amazing parents and my cute mom, who while still vital, attractive and lovely, is seeing her body wear down. Then I thought of my friend, student and current teacher-trainee, Nancy Richards, who at 64 moves like a 30-year-old in yoga, crushes it on the spin bike, hikes, bikes and skis. WOW. I’ll take that.
I pushed through resistance item #2 because I LOVE yoga (yes it’s a work out, but at its core it’s a spiritual practice of which the work-out is a tiny portion). I’m also happy to ride indoors to stay conditioned for mountain biking (my second greatest love behind yoga) and I believe all of the research about intense cardiovascular exercise increasing HGH, endorphins, serotonin etc. – I’ll take all of that because there’s nothing that I love more than feeling AMAZING.
As soon as Tony and I started the interview I knew it was a great idea. It was an opportunity to talk about my passions to a new audience.
Watch the interview here:
Yoga is amazing for EVERYBODY. It’s especially amazing for bodies that want to age gracefully. In yoga, we move through our entire range of motion and all of our little accessory (rarely used) muscles. We also work tremendously hard on the core, which protects and lengthens the spine. Flexibility and balance are two of the first pieces of athleticism and health that people lose as they age, and yoga helps to improve those areas as well.
We spend a lot of time upside down in down-dog, forward-folds and inversions. These poses have amazing benefits to calming the parasympathetic nervous system and they are officially working against gravity – take that sagging skin! We do work incredibly hard, doing a lot of lunges, chattaranga pushups, side planks etc. We are using our own body weight to build bone density, which is another must for people over fifty!
So that’s just a tiny list of the health benefits of yoga. But my favorite thing about yoga in its ability to invite people to age gracefully is simply the fluidity and grace we introduce.
We hold so much tension and density in our bodies because it gives us the illusion of control. We also hold all of our pain, failure, drama and trauma as little energy nodules in the body called samskaras.
Everything in the universe, including humans, flows in an energetic pattern called a tube torus. When the tube torus is open and flowing freely we are clean, clear, bright, free and alive. In nature we can see examples of clean energy patterns flowing together. Nature balances, syncs, synergizes and coalesces with itself. We are intended to synergize in the same way and our tube torus is supposed to flow freely.
Sadly, due to all of the density, tension and samskaras we hold in our bodies (as well as a lot of external influences from the electromagnetic soup we swim in and the SAD – standard American diet) our energetic patterns are generally not flowing properly. We can see in the high rates of addiction that are currently in existence (I just read that while only 10 percent of Americans are truly addicted to alcohol, a full 30 percent are alcohol-dependent). Other examples include depression, numbing with the dumbing of American TV, the acceptance of hard-core violence and soft-core porn into our living rooms every night (not mine!), environmental degradation, poverty, famine, the sex trade of children, war, genetically modified food, disease etc. By all of these things, we see that we are clearly NOT syncing with nature in the way that was our birthright, in the way spirit intended for us.
In yoga, we move through our entire energetic sphere with grace and fluidity. When we do this with a burning desire to connect to consciousness, to cleanse our habits and our patterns, to free ourselves from our rigidity, to move higher, we just might make a little progress in that 60 – 75 minutes on our mats.
There’s something about moving with fluidity and grace, the way we do in yoga that also breaks down linear thinking. It helps us confuse the mind, move in a circle, play. Einstein said, “Confusion is the brink of discovery.” When we’re confused, doing something new, and pushing our edges we create new neural pathways (we’re pretty addicted to the ones we always use, and most of those stories aren’t so pleasant). So get a little lost, get a little confused, try something new, change your brain and explore that brink of discovery!
If we all work hard on cleaning up our own energy, elevating our own vibration, bringing ourselves into greater alignment and higher consciousness, then sooner or later that nasty list from above will start to shrink and lose it’s hold over humanity.