“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
Many of you know that my father who is now 97 has outlived the odds. He is a living breathing example of living life to its fullest no matter how many breaths he has left.
As I cherish each and every day that we have together, I see it is one of the biggest lessons of my life and the deepest practice of yoga I have experienced up to this point. While the poses and the physical practice were my point of entry into yoga, the practice has become so much more to me.
Understanding that life is finite has always been part of the practice. Learning to accept that, particularly for those you love, may actually be the biggest test.
As I juggle to find enough hours in the day, I understand that prioritizing and self-care are important, especially while caring for those I love. I learned this early on when I first started practicing yoga regularly as a young working mother. Yoga was my refuge from dirty diapers, endless laundry, errands, daily chores, raising a family and managing my career. Yoga was where I returned to again and again, when my frazzled nerves were fraying.
I find myself here again, in yet another chapter of life and unconditional love. As I work to balance my incredibly blessed life, which includes caring for 4 beautiful generations of family, I’m seeing that all these years of yoga has provided me some perspective on managing this next step in my life. I’m not necessarily ready for it, but I’m trying to apply what I’ve learned.
Patience, perseverance, acceptance, impermanence, practicing non-clinging and non-grasping, adapting to each moment as increased challenge, fear and doubt creep in … It’s a lot, and it’s not easy. It’s what we learn about on the mat. I spoke to my teacher Gabriel recently about doing my best to make the most of the time I have with my father and he replied, “That’s the real yoga.” His words have never been so true.
In watching my tired mother fight to stay strong, I see that compassion for those we love comes so naturally. But kindness toward ourselves is the even loftier goal to integrate into our demanding lives. Trouble is, we often cannot see ourselves clearly enough to recognize that we are deserving of compassion too and struggle with justifying that we actually are. I realize she is my mirror. And so, even when I’m compelled to run on empty, I must turn that mirror back on myself and remember the importance of taking time to re-fill my own well to better care for them.
So as I tread through this next stage of my life, I will again depend on my yoga practice to provide me the strength, understanding and resilience I need to endure and persevere. My my hope in sharing this with you is that when you face similar life challenges, you will do the same. For if nothing else, yoga can help remind us what really matters most and how embracing each of life’s precious moments is in fact, “the real yoga.”