Down below is Gregor's FB status update from this morning on how the body and practice changes as one gets older.
This isn't just a question of physical capability of course, recently I've been drawn more towards extended pranayama and meditation practice causing me to cut back on the asana. However, there's still this nagging voice that keeps whispering in my ear, telling me that I have a few years of good asana in me yet and that I should be making the most of it.
I've been trying to work a post all week about 'letting go', letting go of the fancy asana, of the high level of strength and fitness that comes with a full on advanced asana practice, letting go of the cool kids club.... and just accepting that a strong asana focus is a preparatory stage as far as traditional ashtanga is concerned, pranayama too, sooner or later your likely to want to cut those limbs back a little ( or a lot) to make time for your meditation practice.....may as well be sooner rather than later.
'...When once a fair proficiency has been attains in asana and pranayama, the aspirant to Dhyana has to regulate the time to be spent on each and choose the particular Asanas and pranayama which will have the most effect in strengthening the higher organs and centres of perception and thus aid him in attaining Dhyana.' Krishnamacharya
Anyway, here's Gregor....
"15 hours ago ·
I completed the 2nd draft of my new meditation book, called Yoga Meditation.
I will now start to here post content.
I got requests from a few students to write about how body and practice changes as one gets older as people seem to struggle to keep up practice. Important here is to realize that asana practice was designed to support practice of meditation and pranayama. As you get older you need to shift emphasis from asana practice to the higher limbs. Try to limit your asana practice to 90 minutes and spend the rest on higher yogic practices.
Physical problems often result from students not graduating on to the higher limbs. It’s the higher limbs that will give you the realization that you are not the body but the consciousness, the self. Once that has been attained the ambition to flog the body in asana practice, will disappear and with it many of the physical problems.
(passage from Yoga Meditation): If asana is understood on a deep level then we will, once in the posture, produce the counteraction that propelled us into the posture. When done on all levels of live this method leads to mastery, that it going with the flow, being in the zone or being in the Tao. Rather than manifesting an enormous force that breaks through the barriers of the world and must in the end produce our own un-doing we move through life without force but using existing forces. This way no counterforce is ever necessary to manifest against us.
This principle is beautifully expressed in Chuang Tzu’s “The Dexterous Butcher”. The story is a bit unsavoury for vegetarians but the message is deep nevertheless. Here, Lord Wen-hui watches and questions his cook who for 19 years uses the same blade to carve up thousands of oxen without sharpening it. The cook explains that rather than hacking through the oxen, he first pays respect in his heart, meets the oxen with his whole consciousness and he cares for the Way. He then moves with great subtlety, finds the right spot, almost effortlessly leans against the oxen and suddenly it is as if the whole oxen falls apart by itself. (end of quote)
Your body is that oxen. Rather than hacking through it with much energy and effort, first pay respect for it in your heart. It is not an animal that you need to conquer and beat into submission. Meet your body with your whole consciousness and treat it as an expression of the Divine creative force (prana). Do not think that you only want to get that backbend, that leg-behind-head or which ever posture it is. Understand that your body is the crystallized history of your past thoughts, emotions and actions. Its not just meat, but more than you think it is.
Move with great subtlety and find the right spots where you are holding on. Because it is you that is holding on, not somebody else. And now comes the secret: After with having identified with great subtlety the right spot, lean against it almost effortless and without ambition, just by shifting your body weight within your body. The result will be that your body will open almost effortless.
Important though is that you do not practice for the results, for the outcome. Do not practice goal-oriented as that will lead to more and more injury. As Lord Krishna says in the Gita, surrender the outcomes of your actions.
I found that it takes many years and decades to open to inner intelligence and intelligence of the body. Good news is that intelligence grows as one gets older. Years ago scientists thought that we get dumber as we get older but this has now been proven wrong. There is something called the neuroplasticity of the brain. It means that as long as you keep learning, your brain will become more and more powerful.
As I am getting older, I found that I am using less and less energy and time to achieve in my practice more and more. Recently I read a sign in a café’ saying, ‘Drink coffee. Do more stupid things, faster and with more energy.’ A was amazed that the sign expressed reciprocally what happened in my practice (without coffee). Using much less energy, I do less things in a smarter way but the outcome is much more profound. But like Lord Wen-hui’s butcher I first had to learn to listen to my body.
The good news is that yoga gets better as it goes on. I found the first 10 years tough. The second decade sort of happened by auto-pilot, meaning it required no additional effort. But only in the third decade the harvest began. Keep hanging in there. It will get better and better.
I had a fantastic time teaching in Manila. Heartfelt thanks to the people of the Philippines, who welcomed me so openly. I found them to be some of the friendliest people that I ever visited. I very much look forward to returning to Manila in the future.
I will stay in Perth for the next almost three months until we got to Bali to teach our 200-hour teacher training. Here we will present the essence of our 35 years of research and practice. If you are interested please request our prospectus at http://www.8limbs.com/teacher-training
If you are currently reading or have read my Pranayama book and found it helpful please do not hesitate to give it a review at your favourite online retailer. I put an enormous amount of work into my books and your reviews help to circulate the books and keep me going.
This from Paul Harvey oh fb this morning