What Yoga is and is not are often confused. For example, it is *not* bending like a pretzel or doing some Cirque du Soleil contortionism. Fundamentally, Yoga is asana, pranayama, and meditation; or poses, breathing, and relaxing consciousness. That’s it. No acrobatics, no flashy handstands, no prayer, nothing exotic.
If anything, Yoga can be messy, because it is the practice of looking at self. The true inner self that many try to ignore, to sweep under the rug, or to even have lost track of. Often, most of us do not know who we are, having become what we have been molded to be via pressure, coercion or nudging. None can escape the expectations of parents and peers, the influence of family and friends. Over time, we think that what we think and do is of our own choice, but often, these actions are but re-actions to religion and society, to genetics and/or perceived genetics, to nurturing and economics, to language and to nature, overall, we are influenced in any number of ways and influences.
Most people come to Yoga to either look good or feel good, but more often than not, find something they didn’t go looking for: A realization of Self. However, far from being uncomfortable, Yoga helps us age successfully physically, emotionally, and socially.
Today’s culture often views aging as a process of loss, yet, on a physical level, it helps one maintain or regain strength and suppleness; on an emotional level, it provides a sense of self-acceptance and gratitude; and socially, it allows us to live wholly in the Now, which means we are more aware of the tendency of mind, which helps us aleviate stress and/or navigate out of difficult situations with sensitivity and relaxation.
As such .. Yoga is more an internal practice than an external one. Strength, flexibility, and endurance are important, equally so as self-acceptance, self-knowledge, and acceptance. That is Real Yoga.
So when it comes to aging, Yoga can be a way to clarify one’s purpose, to awaken to real, align one’s self with the flow of Being.