When I began my yoga practice in 1970, I had the idea that I would pretty much be following the same practice routine forever that I had established from the beginning.
Nothing has been further from the truth. At the beginning I adapted my life to fit my practice. I started going to bed earlier so that I could awaken to practice in a quiet morning environment. I changed my diet, what I read, who I hung out with, and soon, my job, as I decided to begin teaching yoga.
But over the years, the opposite has happened. Gradually my practice has evolved to fit my life. There were adaptations with pregnancy, motherhood, and, of course, with peri-menopause and menopause.
Hopefully with aging one becomes more naturally introspective and less influenced by the external world. As I entered peri-menopause, I noticed a definite shift of my interest. It was as if a “natural” pratyahara was taking place.
I wanted to meditate longer, practice pranayama longer, and my asana practice changed as well. Soon fifty percent of my practice consisted of supported backbends and supported inversions, especially Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall pose), Supported Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) on the chair and Supported Halasana (Plow pose) on the Halasana bench.
I found I needed this intense internal focus time in my life to integrate not only the physical changes that I was experiencing, but also the life changes of parenting teenagers and young adults. Additionally I was becoming the major emotional and familial support for an aging mother.
When I chatted with other women yoga teachers my age, we found we were all moving in the same direction with our practice. We began to eschew so much action in the practice and instead were increasingly nourished by cultivating the receptive consciousness of quiet poses for at least half of our practice of asana.
The most important thing I learned about this process is a lesson I still learn repeatedly. I would distill this lesson into a “mantra” of these three words: Trust yourself first. This will guide you well as you transition through life’s stages.
*Special thanks to “Yoga for Healthy Aging” for allowing us to re-publish this article!
Judith Hanson Lasater, Restorative Yoga pioneer and beloved Feathered Pipe friend, returns with two week-long retreats exploring the practice of letting go, July 31 – August 7 and August 8 – 14, “Letting Go: The Heart Of Yoga Practice.”
About Judith Hanson Lasater:
Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D, PT, taught at the very first workshop ever held at Feathered Pipe Ranch in 1975. “The Pipe” has become a touchstone for her, her family, her friends and her students. She brings broad and deep experience across many disciplines and in a multitude of settings. She holds a doctorate in East West Psychology, is a physical therapist, and began her yoga teaching career in 1971. She is co-founder of the Iyengar Institute of San Francisco and of Yoga Journal. Her teachings have been shared in nearly every state in the United States and on six continents.
Her strong academic credibility and extensive experience teaching – she has done yoga in almost every state of the US, and on six continents – make her a sought-after voice of wisdom and experience. Judith served as a consultant on three National Health Institute studies on various aspects of yoga and has accepted scores of invitations to speak at international conferences on yoga.
Judith received a Senior Teaching Certificate from BKS Iyengar in 1983. She is president emeritus of the California Yoga Teachers’ Association authored eight books on yoga including Yogabody: Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Asana and Asana and What We Say Matters: Practicing Nonviolent Communication. She was featured in 2010 by Natural Health magazine as one of five people who have most influenced natural health in the United States during the previous 40 years. Judith is the author of eight books on yoga which will be available at the Ranch store during the workshop.
Learn more about Judith: judithhansonlasater.com