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The anti-aging movement

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At 30, a new appreciation for the journey

Blog by Erin [Yogini, wordsmith, happiness advocate]

Hot dang.  I’m about to be 30 years old.

As I approach this birthday, I’m struck anew that my life hasn’t followed many of the rules. I’ve not met many of the timelines or completed the societal standard checklist of important stuff a young woman is supposed to do on her path to becoming a grown-up 30-year-old.  I still spend a disproportionate amount of my income on music and travel. My body has not yet produced offspring.  Sometimes I still drink too much booze.

Thank my lucky stars I found yoga way back in college. Yoga has taught me so much about loving myself, about loving others, and about dealing with heartbreak. About discovering and living as the most authentic version of myself. My work as a yoga instructor has been a constant process of giving and receiving.  I have been given so much.

So as I approach 30, I give you these words as my gift as I make peace with this milestone.  I hope they will leave you inspired and curious and excited about being you at whatever age. Imagine the bullet points as little high fives.

  • You can never be sure what cards the universe will deal you.  Bearing witness to a loved one’s struggle with mental illness has been the hardest experience of my 30 years.  It is such a bewildering and heartbreaking thing to endure -- there are no words.  The beautiful part (there MUST be a beautiful part) is that as I try to cope with it all, I feel my heart getting bigger and bigger.  It’s like there is someone knocking down walls in there and adding on rooms.  The take-away: you have absolutely no idea what a person might be silently dealing with.  Be kind.  Always be kind. The mind is a battlefield for so many.

  • Keep your mind away from trashy magazines and television shows that do not depict real people!  Real people means humans who aren’t a product of thousands of dollars of plastic surgery, airbrushing, or one of the 0.00009% of the population with the genetic makeup of a super-model.  You wouldn’t throw garbage out of your car window, so why would you throw it into your brain? Your body tells your story. All the scars and freckles and laugh lines, all the glasses of wine and bricks of cheese that keep that extra bit of flesh on your body, these are things that make you magical. It’s like your life is tattooing you. Tattoos are cool, right? Your life is full of awesome stories, right?  Tell the truth. You are beautiful.

  • Forgive people. Start forgiving everybody. Yourself. Your ex lover.  Your Dad. The butthole that was in line next to you at Starbucks.  Radical forgiveness. Let it go. Drop the sandbags and go frolic!

  • About six years ago I had this wild idea that I couldn’t let go. I wanted to become a yoga teacher. A crazy idea, no?  Find what makes you come alive and go do it. If you aren’t sure what makes you come alive, then be curious. Spend time getting to know yourself.  Practice yoga. Meditate. Volunteer. Read books. Try new things. Be a good listener. The answer is not hiding inside your television. Be brave. You got ‘dis.

  • Surround yourself with an army of badass people.  This has been one of the greatest things I’ve learned as I’ve become an adult. You can be kind and understanding and compassionate with everyone you encounter, but you do not have to be their best friend, their boyfriend or their girlfriend. Set boundaries.  Keep it real. Honor your limitations with all things. Surround yourself with people that make you shine.

So, there is our pep talk. Get old, get super-old -- without feeling a day older.  Get more awesome each day you walk this planet. Leave it a better place than you found it.  Let’s start a revolution: the anti-anti-aging movement.

Morgan is a yoga instructor who teaches at Invoke Studio, among other places. She is known among her yoga students for her clever sequences and trendy playlists.



Using yoga to avoid the big fall

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A near collision on my bike enlightened me about yoga's role in tackling life's challenges

Blog by Francesca [Loveinvoke blogger-in-chief]

I was riding my bike on the Cultural Trail in Downtown Indianapolis a few weeks ago en route to the Monon for a ride up to the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market. It was my first ride of more than a couple miles on my newly purchased bike, and I was excited for the adventure.

But as I was rounding the corner on the trail off Mass Ave near the Flying Cupcake, I ran into my first obstacle. Another rider was navigating a sharp corner at the same time as I was, and we nearly collided. Somehow I was able to remain calm, but the poor other guy nearly fell off his bike after wobbling around and weaving with a look of terror on his face. Finally, he regained his balance -- slightly embarrassed -- and we both apologized and went along our rides.

As I rode off, I began to think about why I was able to maintain my composure with relative ease while my partner in collision nearly wiped out. My mind went immediately to the first chapter of yoga instructor Cyndi Lee’s book, Yoga Body, Buddha Mind, which we’re reading in my yoga teacher training program.

In the first few pages, Cyndi describes her experience falling out of a boat into the icy cold water of a river in Costa Rica. She recalls being trapped under the boat but maintaining a sense of calm that she had honed through her yoga and meditation practices, even while thoughts of death were running through her mind. With steadiness, she was able to emerge from underneath the boat to be pulled out of the water by a yoga student with whom she was boating.

These physical obstacles are apt metaphors for the challenges that confront us in life. Just like the man with whom I almost collided on the Cultural Trail, it’s easy to find ourselves cruising along calmly when the path is clear and things seem to be going our way. But when life throws twists and turns into the course, we start to get off kilter.

For me, yoga has provided a powerful way to find balance in the midst of chaos and bring myself back to a sense of peace. Through the physical practice of yoga, I’ve learned the mental focus and discipline required to do some of the more challenging poses. There are certain poses that present me with particular challenges, but if my mind starts to panic coming into them, I know it’s a lost cause. Instead, I push myself to find a way to remain calm and steady, and in so doing I can find a greater sense of steadiness in the pose.

Just imagine if we could all take what we learn off the mat into the world and use it as we confront the twists and turns of daily life. Think how much more effective we’d be if we could find a way to be calm, despite the chaos.

Not falling off my bike in the midst of a near crash was a small step on the journey toward a better disposition in the face of life’s obstacles. I guess we all have to start somewhere.

Jarosz is a former journalist who loves to write, practice yoga, run and lead communications efforts for The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education reform nonprofit. Follow her on Twitter @francescajarosz.



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