The time we spend on our yoga mats prepares us for the time we spend away from them. As I read through Heather’s reflection of spending time with her in-laws, I am reminded that yoga helps me see life though a new lens. The language Heather uses as she contemplates her life lived with her elders about intention and life lessons speaks volumes of her yoga journey. We hope you are as touched by Heather’s words are we are!
Mid-September is here and for my family that means one crazy, beautiful annual ritual: my British husband’s 84yr old parents traveled from their small hamlet in England to Seattle to stay with us for six weeks. Six weeks. Living communally under the same roof with the addition of a hormonal 12yr old and a feisty puppy. Let that picture settle in.
My in-laws are worlds apart from us in so many ways and there are times during their stay where I long for the normalcy of routine; and yet, the three easy lessons learnt from sharing experiences with these foreign elders are invaluable and ones I welcome. Here they are:
1) Slow down – Everything with my in-laws is s-l-o-w-e-r. They are fortunate to have their physical health and love our city-centric lifestyle, however, when getting from point A to B there is no hustle, at all. We are all forced to slow down. It’s hard and yet, slowing down affords us the opportunity to take notice of the life that surrounds us. The people, the places and the things. I go through my senses when doing so: what do I see, hear, taste, smell and feel. Slowing down isn’t easy especially in this hi-fi, bustling world and if we don’t slow down, we miss so much. In small ways, one step at a time, this is a practice I’ll keep long after they’ve gone back to England.
2) Be gentle – At 84yrs. their fragility prevails. Banging into a door causes the slightest scratch that tears open granddad’s paper-thin skin to the point of profuse bleeding. American entrées are ridiculously too large for their stomachs and appetites. Instead of seeing these things as detriments, I try to look at the flip side of the proverbial ‘coin’ to see the value of being gentle with one another and our self. Softness and lightness.
Time and again, my husband gets irritated with his father for having to repeat himself and for how he reacts to getting older. Reactions my husband would likely have in the same situation. In any relationship, be it with another person or oneself, you can choose how to respond. You can hold individual differences with irritation or gentleness. This gift of life we’ve been given is precious and inevitably will go quicker than we think. That’s what I’ve heard from the octegarians. By choice, I’ll practice being gentle with those around me, young and old. It makes the time together much sweeter.
3) Play – Technology, Wi-Fi and Facebook are other worlds to them. Cable TV and the remote controls confuse them. Their mobility is limited. To engage one another and connect, we play old-school games like Scrabble and card games. Games where we are head-to-head confronting one another, brain-to-brain collaborating and face-to-face laughing. At any age, there are ways to incorporate play into the day and ways to bridge the gap between young and old.
Hopefully, they’ll be able to travel over here next year too. Until then, I’ll continue to incorporate these three practices into my world with more intention.
What are you learning off your yoga mat? What intentions have you set for Fall 2014? Let us know on Twitter @streetyoga, we’d love to hear from you!
I’m a huge believer in the power of movement and teach yoga because of its power to transform from inside out. I have a 200-hr certification from locally-based Pacific Yoga and offer slow flow, alignment- focused classes for adults and game-playing, story-telling yoga-based movement classes for kids. Yoga offers balance and compassion to the competitive strive-to-win, aggressive mentality in which we are so accustomed. A devoted practice nourishes the body, mind, spirit and brain; and, centers people in ways that empower them to be their most authentic selves. This centering allows people more personal acceptance and openness to the world and opportunities around them, whether on the racecourse, in the corporate world or, in daily life.
Connect with Heather via her Fueled by Yoga page on Facebook.