This guest post courtesy of Jurian Hughes. © Jurian Hughes, 2019
Aging is not for the faint of heart, even though it does beat the alternative.
Aging for women comes with its own unique challenges—weight gain, memory loss, fatigue, loss of libido, anxiety, bloating, hair thinning, mood swings, insomnia, depression – and these are just the beginning.
Yoga’s foundational teachings, the Yamas and Niyamas, offer ten principles that can help navigate these waters with a little more grace and ease, resulting in an increase of health and happiness and, hopefully, less suffering.
- Ahimsa (compassion) The first principle is always the most important. Be kind to yourself. Imagine yourself as the heroine of your own life’s journey (especially when the road is rough) and celebrate every triumph in your day, no matter how small.
- Satya (truthfulness) Your body’s needs shift later in life. Be willing to adjust your expectations and listen for clues that it wants something different than you’re used to – an earlier bedtime, a different kind of exercise than you’re used to. Make it a practice to speak your truth and ask for what you need from friends and family.
- Asteya (non-stealing) Many women have habitually put others first for years – children, a job, a partner. If that sounds like you, this is the time to stop stealing from yourself and practice making your own life, goals and schedule a priority.
- Brahmacharya (energy management) Are you receiving as much as you give? Review your calendar and specifically plan events and activities that nurture and rejuvenate you to help balance out those that require energy output.
- Aparigraha (non-attachment) Are you attached to a version of yourself that no longer exists? Let go of comparison to that younger you and let this be a time of reinvention. What interests you now? Check out new authors, podcasts, movies. Maybe it’s time for a new hairstyle, new clothes or hobby, or even new goals.
- Saucha (purity) This is a great time to do an experimental clean-out of your diet. Don’t go crazy. Eat whole foods, drink water, avoid sugar, lower your alcohol consumption, and see how you feel. Stay curious. In addition to shedding some mid-life pounds, you will likely discover that your head feels clearer, your moods more balanced, and you sleep better.
- Santosha (contentment) There are so many opportunities to get frustrated at this stage of life. Some days it may seem that nothing is going right. Remember that so much is out of your control. Your hormones are shifting, your body is changing, and you are not to blame. At the end of every day, write down five things that went well or made you happy. Celebrate the good.
- Tapas (uplifting discipline) Make a commitment for a pre-determined amount of time (two weeks, one month) to one small change that will improve your health or quality of life. The key here is to set yourself up for success, so make it doable. Five minutes of meditation; twenty minutes of yoga; one small chocolate instead of an entire pint of ice cream. You want to “uplift”, not “shame”.
- Svadhyaya (self-study) Be willing to get to know yourself better. In our busy, stimulation-heavy culture, even just a few minutes a day in quiet meditation can be a life-changer. Consider starting a journal or keeping a diary by your bed to help recall your dreams. Read a poem or a piece of sacred text each day.
- Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender to the play of life) If there’s one area of your life where you’ve been exerting a great deal of will and effort, what would it be like to shift your attention to simply being in the process and trusting what unfolds? This can feel scary at first, but it’s also the place where miracles occur.
Ultimately, remember that the Yamas and Niyamas are meant to be practiced, not perfected.
They’re not a set of commandments or laws that are to be followed to the letter. They’re a guide to support you on your journey toward greater happiness. If you’re on that journey with curiosity, dedication and compassion (back to the first principle!) then you’re on a good and worthwhile journey.
Jurian Hughes, E-RYT 500, YACEP, MFA, is the founder of the Yoga of Voice, co-creator of the Yoga of Yes, a Let Your Yoga Dance® teacher trainer, voice coach, personal mentor, writer, speaker, and theater performer. A faculty member for the Kripalu School of Yoga for more than a decade, Jurian has trained more than 1,000 Kripalu Yoga teachers since 2006, and is known for her passionate, playful, and engaging teaching style. In addition, she has an extensive theatrical background spanning Broadway, off-Broadway, film, and television. Jurian leads workshops, retreats, and trainings at Kripalu and around the world, promoting whole-being wellness and increased creativity and thriving through yoga, dance, voice and play. She is the creator of the DVD, Gentle Kripalu Yoga with Jurian Hughes and the CD, Deep and Delicious Yoga with Jurian Hughes.
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