Move It or Lose It
"Yoga is the fountain of youth. You're only as young as your spine is flexible." ~ Bob Harper
"Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape." ~Unknown
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique." ~ Martha Graham
A couple of my students (both in their mid- to late seventies) and I were chatting the other day about how important it is to move. They're both pretty active; they walk, play tennis, golf, swim and practise yoga several times a week. Unlike some of my other students, they don't seem to suffer from aches and pains much. Both of them are quite limber, moving easily through sun salutations and getting down to and up from the floor with apparent ease.
I've noticed that many people seem to attribute their aches and pains to old age - sort of like "aging pains" for the over 50 instead of "growing pains" for the younger set. This habit of mind can begin early in life - even people in their thirties and forties can be afflicted with it. And yet - and yet - it's important not to lose sight of the fact that people into their eighties and nineties can still move well, and happily.
Several years ago I took a class with a 96-year-old yoga teacher, Ida Herbert, who started practising yoga when she was 50, was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest yoga teacher in 2013, and passed her 100th birthday in 2016. When asked if she had any aches or pains, she said "no, none!" She said it with a smile on her face and no trace of a grimace, so I had to believe her.
In truth, motion is lotion. Your body's tissues need to move, to be hydrated regularly, to slide against each other to create ease and flexibility. If you don't move, you seize up like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. Motion is the oil you need to get unstuck. Your joints need to move (each vertebra on the spine too) to stay lubricated with synovial fluid, and healthy.
Too much sitting has been linked to many ailments, including excessive weight, hip and back pain, shoulder and neck pain, anxiety, depression, some types of cancer, diabetes and varicose veins.
So get up and move, dance, join a yoga class, walk a dog, go for a hike. Do a little movement every single day, many times a day. If you sit, get up every half hour and move. Dance, jog on the spot. Move your body in new and unexpected ways. Explore what your body is capable of doing. You may be pleasantly surprised to find how well your body responds to regular movement.
And even more pleasantly surprised to find that aging does NOT equate to pain and limited movement. As the saying goes, "you don't stop dancing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop dancing."
May your heart sing with joy in the dance of life.
Donna offers a holistic perspective on the relationship and healing of physical and emotional pain.