Restarting a Yoga Practice With a Midlife Body

I first tried Yoga in my late 40’s, and I did so grudgingly. My husband had discovered Yoga at our fitness club and had been nagging me for weeks to go to a class with him. I envisioned contortionist-like movement coupled with 60’s-style meditation, so I was sure I wouldn’t like it. I only agreed to go to a class to stop his nagging.

Don’t tell him this, but he was right! Yoga was a great workout – I felt pleasantly fatigued and at peace when I left the gym.

That one class turned into a regular Yoga practice (4 or 5 times a week for 50-60 minutes.) I experienced the benefits of Yoga first-hand; you could even say I became a true believer.

That’s why I’m kicking myself because I quit doing a regular practice and DANG! My 60-something body wants it back!

I have a pretty good idea what it’ll be like to restart a Yoga practice with a midlife body.

The good thing about being this age is I know my body better. I know what it’ll take to get back into regular practice and I know how my body will react to the practice. (I know how much time I’ll need to spend in the hot tub to recover from each practice :D)

I also have no illusions about myself, my habits, and my lifestyle. I know I won’t be committing to a 50-60 minute practice 4 or 5 days a week. I know I need to plan practice time around my already-full schedule.

I also know I’m preparing for a 5K with our Boise Kids, so somehow the two fitness goals will need to mesh together without me feeling like all I’m doing is exercising!

Mental Preparation #1: Don’t be overwhelmed – if I plan it, it will work. Just Breathe. (Haha! A very Yogic concept – I’m already on my way!)

A major tenet of Yoga is to avoid all negative judgment and to view yourself with kindness.

If there are days when all I can do is a minimum 15 minutes, I’m OK with that. I know starting any exercise program is a challenge at this age. I’m no longer the 30 or 40-something woman who has the ability or desire to fight through the pain. I no longer get motivated by the statement, “No pain, no gain.” (Well, not after the pain starts…)

If I’m completely honest, I’m overweight and have a bag full of excuses that I can bring out whenever I don’t want to do any exercise program. It’s probably not a matter of “if” I do the minimums, it’s “when” I do them.

When that happens, I know I don’t need to beat myself up, because I’ve learned I like myself anyway. My self-image doesn’t accept punishing myself if I’m not perfect.

Mental preparation #2: Don’t judge myself harshly. Remember, I don’t have to be perfect before I like myself.

Another Yoga teaching is removing all ego and competition with yourself and others.

I was raised in a very competitive family. Heck, my brother and I started having coloring contests in pre-school! My nurtured instinct when accepting a challenge is to CRUSH the competition. Usually, that ego-driven spirit has led to injuries when doing any exercise program.

My competition is usually my own ego, but I realize this is a get-to-a-better-fitness-place goal. No competition needed. There is no need to push myself to be where I was when I did a regular practice. When I get on the mat I’ll need to accept what I can do without forcing flexibility too far or holding poses too long.

Mental preparation #3: Remember to recognize where my body needs time and patience and don’t try to progress too quickly.

Restarting a yoga practice with a midlife body will take non-judgmental self-acceptance.

I wish I had the body of my 30’s or 40’s, but I don’t. I long for the strength, agility, and endurance I had years ago, but I don’t want that body enough to go back to those times in my life. Nnnooo, I like who I am right now, thank you.

Who I am, right now, knows a thing or two about myself. I know I have wisdom and strength gained from years of experience. That wisdom and strength have taught me I might be out of shape and overweight, but I know how to love myself enough to do this. I know enough to measure my progress, not my perfection, so the hard part is over. The decision is made and the intention is set. Bring on the pain! (J/K!)