One of the best things about the Yoga Mat Life is that it can change as your body and needs do. Very few sports and fitness activities have the flexibility that yoga does in terms of being able to be adapted as the body ages and copes with different challenges. But yoga has modifications for every single pose and posture so you’re able to do it in at least some form for your entire life, no matter where you are.
Even though the majority of the yogis and yoginis we see on the yoga mat in videos and marketing materials are young, strong, and healthy, it’s no coincidence that some of the original exporters of yoga from India were much older when they were inspired to send their followers into the world with their message of whole-person well-being. These learned and experienced teachers had discovered the undeniable benefits of a regular yoga and meditation practice and knew that it would benefit not only the younger population looking to stay healthy, but the older population looking for increased quality of life. And thank goodness they did.
Your time on your yoga mat may have changed since you first began your practice. How could it not? If nothing has gone awry, you will have improved and evolved into a deeper practice and more challenging postures, maybe even spending longer amounts of time on the yoga mat. But if you’re like most people who encounter physical setbacks in some form or another, you may have found your practice needing modification. Good instructors are able to help here; with easy changes to poses, you can continue to practice even with limited physical capabilities. In the worst circumstances, you can simply sit and meditate, focusing on the prana that courses through your body, and cultivating mindfulness even as your body seems disinclined to cooperate. But it doesn’t have to mean the end of your practice.
The Yoga Mat Life is not one of constantly making strides in your physical performance, but one of taking where you are in any given moment and making it serve you. So even though the practice may seem to be focused on the physical, it’s truly about the mental, emotional, and spiritual. Just as your body becomes more flexible with practice, allow your mind and your practice itself to be flexible in meeting your changing needs on the yoga mat.