How to deal with an aging body- not just an aging face.
Age ain’t a number at all. The changes we undergo on the surface like the wrinkles, the grey hair, the change of our outer “look”; is only part of the complex and quite revealing aging story. I’m not talking about getting old, because we all grow older; that’s inevitably what occurs to our cells after our bodies reach their apex; but building awareness, and becoming wiser, not only mentally but also in terms of how our body works or doesn’t; alludes us.
The folly of youth affords us the illusion that the body is going to last and carry us forever; on the other hand the wisdom of age brings with it the understanding that the body will carry us as far as it’s able, and as far as WE carry it.
As we age, we have to contend with a whole new set of rules; mentally, emotionally and physically. As our body undergoes the slow and then rapid process of aging, we can’t afford to be aloof and callous; so we have to find ways to understand and communicate with our bodies in ways we may not have imagined. As a young athlete and practitioner of yoga; I did pretty much everything my body allowed me to do, and whatever it didn’t do naturally, heavy handed adjustments took place. I loved them. I loved being pulled placed, and adjusted. Over the years I found that deep adjustments needed superior knowledge and listening abilities from the teacher as well as the student. Having been in, and as I continue to explore both of those roles; I’ve started to approach my personal practice and teaching in much more well rounded approach.
knowing what our limitations are is key to aging well versus growing old.
Our Bodies tell us things all the time. They change temperature when fighting the common cold, pain and how we react to it plays a vital role to understanding our nervous system, and hormones play a very important role in how we feel and react to the inside and outside world. What happens when the muscles start to fail us, or when old injuries we had long forgotten come back to haunt us? Our bodies take many beatings over the years; it’s no surprise that the well oiled machine we may have relied on in our youth, is taking its sweet old time in middle, and in old age. Yet with all the “limitations” our bodies face as we get older, and the time we need to recover and heal may be far longer; with that comes a deeper knowledge of how to cope, manage pain, create space for our bones and muscles to become stronger and live a life based on quality not quantity.
Folly gives way to wisdom and communication is key.
These are some of my go to “body listening” techniques that have helped over the past few years.
- Meditation- I can’t say enough good things about it. Quieting the mind and connecting with our breath is probably the most important tool for aging, stress, anxiety and a host of ailments that come with an aging body.
- Exercise- Endorphins rule. Weight training, yoga, stretching, swimming and any body activity that doesn’t cause further damage. As much as I love more physically demanding exercise regimes (and I’ve participated in a lot of them) some of them do more harm than good, and knowing when to stop is probably the hardest lesson to learn when you’re physically active.
- Change of diet. This is probably one of the most important aspects to understanding aging and the body. Anyone who wants to slow down, and or manage aging and pain has to take nutrition very seriously. Diet and super food fads aside (no more KALE!) a proper nutrition consultation is key to managing and caring for our aging bodies. Diner consisting of four dry martinis and a pizza isn’t really a healthy meal.
- Body work, acupuncture, pilates, yoga ( again).
Change is never easy and witnessing our bodies as they age can be a very difficult reality to compute. I for one plan to keep this engine running for many years to come; but knowing what our limitations are is key to aging well versus growing old.
Στην υγεία μας.
What have you noticed about your body over the years and what have you done to adjust, manage and live with its many changes over the years?
3 thoughts on “Day 3 & 4 Aging Challenge Challenged Part 2.”
Eleana, My first Tai-Chi mater who was then around 80 and amazingly nimble used to call us newborns and himself a toddler, and this was after I had been practicing for 15 years, and he most likely most of his life (He came from China). The idea is that our bodies will learn the movements and how to adjust to a deeper level the more we practice. I cannot always remember the next move but my body does. I have also been a swimmer most of my life and never really participated in the more “physical” contact sports other than playing with friends as a kid and through High School.
Now, chronologically I would be called “Old” by most, though I do not feel old. I am still quite flexible, as I am sure you are from your long practice of Yoga, though you’re not “Old” by any means. Part of what you imply here is state of mind, that for me is the most important aspect of aging, and of course, moving and being physical in whatever way you choose other than the “Contact Sport” manner.
Yes I fully agree on this idea of working towards being nimble and able for longer by understanding the deeper practices of anything that we do. And many of my yoga teachers, say “old people’s yoga” when in reality they mean wiser, and deeper inner practice, rather than the fanfare of achieving a pose aesthetically. I don’t feel old either, but its hilarious when younger people than I see me and say “oh you look amazing for a 40 year old ” and I laugh and say what am I supposed to look like let along feel like?? so the aging process is an ever evolving one at best.
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I am 48 and quite a few years ago I noticed my body aging and the hormones taking over control on my health (severe insomnia and other ‘byproducts’). So after experimenting and searching, I stopped vegan eating and high intensity workout and started introducing healthy -organic when possible- animal fat and protein in my diet, walking, swimming, stretching, dancing, pilates and superslow traning. Supplementing along getting to bed before 11pm, also helped.
But fisrt and above all, I have deeply and completely accepted myself and my body, and I remember everyday to forgive and love myself and ‘the others’ and leave -what I cannot handle with my own strengths- into God’s hands.