The older I get and the more I experience life, the more I realize how important yoga is on different levels. I spend a lot of time sharing the mental and spiritual rewards of this practice. Yet sometimes I forget that the physical aspect is important for maintaining and sustaining our earth suit, or “vehicle”, as I call it.
I look at the full picture and appreciate my body as a vessel that needs to be taken care of and maintained, just like a car. In order to get longevity out of a car we have to do regular maintenance: rotate the tires, change the oil, fill up the gas, and sometimes take it for a rip on the highway so that all the lubricants move through it. Cue ‘Keep on Rising’ by Big Gigantic, and open up the windows to let the fresh air in! When we look at our body from the somatic lens, yoga is a tool to maintain the earth suit we’ve been gifted. Slow and methodical movements allow strength to build from the inside out. Flowing through sequences with breath lubricates the joints, and allows for deeper range of motion, which is essential with aging.
In my 20’s and 30’s I did not treat my body in a way that supported longevity. I felt I was young and invincible; unencumbered by the thoughts of what the aging process might look like. In my youth, I was always physical, but did things that were less than gentle and kind to my body.
Yoga found me at a time in my life when my physical and spiritual health were in shambles. If you’d like to know more about that time in my life you can read my bio. Twenty years later, yoga is more important to me than ever. This practice has become part of my identity. In November 2022, I had minor surgery related to having had cancer many years ago. Of course, after any invasive procedure I was in pain and feeling physically unstable. However, when I had to get out of bed, my years of yoga were there to bolster me. My core was strong! When I was able to lift my leg up to dry my toes after my first shower post procedure, I felt deep gratitude for yoga and this body my soul resides in. The inner stability has been developed over months & years of practicing yoga. Do I always feel strong and stable? Of course not. But I can still reap the practical, physical benefits of yoga even when I feel mentally and emotionally depleted.
In modern society, we spend more time sedentary than our ancestors. We have to treat our bodies with more care and more gratitude to keep it strong as we age. In my life, I do this with yoga. The saying ‘move it or lose it’ is so true. We must keep moving our bodies, or we will deteriorate and rust out like a car left up on blocks.
I invite you to sink into your beautiful vehicle, no matter how rusty it might seem and start to move it, slowly, methodically with your breath and you too will reap the benefits for years to come.
Written by Nicole Whitman