Updated: Jul 29, 2020
Yoga is not about touching your toes; it’s about what you learn on the way down.” ~ Jigar Gor
Most athletes, trainers, and bodybuilders are familiar with what’s known as a “plateau.” This is where a person seems to have reached their maximum ability, whether that’s a plateau in weight loss or running speed. For example, someone new to weight training is often thrilled with the quick increases in muscle strength and tone. A year after that, though, such dramatic gains are more difficult to achieve. Someone who is overweight and starts running every day may see pounds of fat melt away in the first year but struggle to reach the last five pounds of their goal. Writer’s call this ‘writer’s block,’ gamblers consider it beginner’s luck. Whatever the format a shift into the less-satisfying realm of “maintenance” can make hitting the gym (the books, the green smoothies, or the casino!) a real struggle.
In yoga, the intention behind our practice adjust to our changes in need and ability. This is yoga’s most redeeming quality! What feels right in our late twenties takes a new direction in middle age and yet again in the Golden Years. Right until our very last breath, yoga remains an option—which is why it’s so important to remember that yoga is not just stretching and that the practice serves a much deeper purpose.
Yoga postures, meditation, and breathing techniques calm the nervous system to support clarity and peace of mind. They diminish distractions, refocus our attention, and provide the mental space that is needed to respond to life with reflection, not reaction. Identifying with the body—obsessing over ho
w fit, flexible, strong, beautiful, ugly, old, or young it is—keeps us trapped in physical limitation. If we explore only this aspect of yoga, we’re scratching the surface of all that it has to offer.