Then vs now – fitness in middle to old age
I was thinking about how in the old days, before a 2-days in coach (meaning no sleep) journey home from India, I’d go up to Bangalore a day ahead (if coming back from Mysore), grab a few hours of sleep and then get up again early enough before the flight to get another practice in.
My first and last Ashtanga teacher, Greg, aka Fucknut, used to talk about how Manju (his one & only) said you could back off your practice at 50. That means the hard stuff, the joint shredding advanced series. Thing is, 3rd is the only really good workout with the first three series, once you’ve adapted to them. The first two are good workouts when you’re learning because of the struggle, but after that not so much.
What he should’ve said was that yogis should mix in other, more democratic forms of exercise as middle age progresses, to keep the body fit and healthy. That’s what it’s supposed to be all about right? Fitness first so that you have a good vessel for the cerebral. Manju wasn’t a great example though. He accumulated a lot of weight around his middle and had a heart attack that was kept on the down low. This was during the tail end of my involvement with studios, somewhere around 2011, 2012. He’s been much trimmer since then, which is good for him and his health, but my point is – look at who you ask for life advice.
Between Goa 2 and Miami 2012, I had all the fuel I needed to divest myself of any self-identification of “Ashtangi”
I was pondering what to do with my practice when I made that last visit to Rolf & Marci in Goa, my last trip to India, not knowing they’d been reading and obsessing over my blog since the first visit. She was anyway. She’d seemingly memorised it! There were three years between that first and second visit, and she referenced blogged events that occurred in the middle. They should’ve told me not to come. I was too transparent! Too direct! Too honest.
Anyway, I was fairly certain Rolf was still practicing advanced series, at a ragged looking late 50s, whereas both of my NYC teachers (both close to my own age) weren’t doing things by the book anymore. I’d wanted to talk to him about practicing and ageing, find out how he’d handled it, get some advice. Then I found out how he and she really felt about me! He compared me to a junkie, because of my need to write. I was stunned, upset… Cried for hours that day. The expats down at the conspiracy theory cafe said I should take the offer of the refund, and continue blogging, at the same space as the scurfy outdoor “shala” and cafe that housed that yoga group at the time.
I really should’ve taken my money back! In the end, I skipped a lot of those practices and just partied. I knew I wasn’t going to learn anything at all in terms of asana, and quite frankly my own room was a much better and warmer practice space. Also, since they were so openly and harshly critical of me, I turned the same microscope on them. OMG I don’t want any life advice from THAT guy!!!
So now, when I do an Astanga practice, it’s a much different thing
These days I prioritise my seated meditation and chanting practice over exercise in general. Exercise is still important… I stress a little bit when I drop below 5-days in a week. But not that much. And if I’m not up to some sort of balls-out workout, I do something moderate.
You can tell what’s got top priority by where it occurs in my day. The meditation comes first. Then the art. I skipped my workout to figure out how to bring along my sketching supplies.
I have a very tiny, low budget carry-on. Figuring out how to travel with all the cat show supplies I’ll need (I have to check two bags) and all the sketching supplies I’d want really wasn’t easy. I wanted to carry just a small bag, but instead it’s going to be the giant Bagolini. I’ll check my carry-on and the Sturdi exhibition case. I’ll carry on my cat carrier, with small feline, and my Bagolini.
This is one of the many nice things I inherited via the passing of my good friend. Useful things. Stylish things. It just so happened we had the same size feet…
Never imagined that my first flight after March 15, 2015 would be to go to a cat show! I actually have to fly to Vancouver, Canada and then get an Uber to Abbortsford an hour away.