No matter your age, it’s still a struggle. (yes this is a yoga post) (spain: day 72)

I am not writing this for sympathy nor am I fishing for compliments. I am writing this to vent or perhaps reach someone out there in this over-populated world that could possibly relate.  I have tried to avoid posting about my yoga practice and going on and on about my struggles with karandavasana and “catching” in backbends, because honestly who cares, right? And most people who will see this on my facebook will have absolutely no idea what the hell I am talking about.  But, this blog is kind of like my practice. It keeps me real, it keeps me honest, and it is a time to sit and let go of emotions that are coming up.  So here it is: I see these posts all over the web about practitioners of all lineages talk about their age and how they found it later in life, and how they wish they found it when they were in their 20’s because it would have been so much easier. Okay, ya, I’m not in my 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and so on. I’m 22. I hear all the time “wow you are so lucky”, “wow I wish I was your age when i started, it would have been so much easier!”  And yes, you can believe me when I say I am SO grateful that this practice of ashtanga yoga found me at 21. No doubt it saved my life. Gave me life. And continues to do so. But is the practice easier because I am 22 and “young”?

I’m my humble opinion, abso-fucking-lutely not. (Sorry parents and grandparents).  Okay, yes my body may be more flexible, malleable, my muscles may recover faster, and my joints may be well oiled still, I may have “more” energy but does that make it easy? No.  I still struggle. My body still gives me issues, my lower back has had a dull pain for the last month and a half due to the fact that my tiled apartment refuses to let me sweat, I am still really, REALLY freaking tired at 6:30 am when I wake up, and some days I can lower down in karandavasana and some days I can barely balance in uttthita hasta padagustasana.  Same issues that the “older folk” have.  (To me age is a mind set) But here is something that you tend to forget…being in your 20’s. This is supposed to be a time of late nights, dancing, drinking, experimenting, being free, and letting loose.  Which I did in my later teens and even earlier 20’s, don’t get me wrong.  I left for Mysore at 21 doing these things, I was dabbling in ashtanga, not really committed but committed to the trip I was about to make.  I came back, still 21, committed to the practice but totally uprooted from the social norm of being in your 20’s.  It was a blessing and a curse. Here I was (still am), back in college, going to bed at 8:30, rising at 4:45 am to practice before my 8 am classes, eating my last meal before 6 pm, castor oil baths on saturdays, doing my japa daily, and watching the moon cycle intently. Did you do this in your 20’s? As I moved through my semesters following my Mysore trip I was constantly being tugged by “the college 20’s life” and my inner, old, “yogini” self.  Do I stay out late to hang out? Or do I call it a night and maybe miss out on an experience?  Do I take those shots? Or do I order a tonic water instead? I felt and still feel that I was less connected to those my age. Nothing has changed since I have arrived in Spain to do my semester abroad. In fact it has just gotten harder.  Do I go on that weekend trip? Or do I stay so I don’t miss practice on sunday? Do I go to the beer fest during the day? Even though I’ll feel like shit when I practice in the morning? Is it weird i’d rather stay home and read, then go out to the bar? And the most asked question(s) to myself: am I really effing crazy?  (probably)

Sometimes I feel like a 42 year old amongst the 19/20 year olds that are in my program. And sometimes I hate that. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so disciplined and didn’t prioritized my practice.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t sacrifice certain experiences for my practice. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have this guilt of missing a practice. But I do and I am.  And it’s really, really hard, ya I’ll say it.  And on top of that I have no community to escape to in the morning, to breath and move with, to interact with.  It has just been me, my manduka, and whatever tiny apartment I am currently occupying at the time for the last year and a half.  And again, it’s  like really, really, really hard.  But something deep, deeeeeep down reminds me it’s worth it, so I listen. But ultimately  I chose this way of life, I choose to make these sacrifices because I know what my life was like before it all. No one is forcing me. And I also know I am not the only one out there. But because I am 22, doesn’t make it easier.

Again, I am not looking for sympathy, in fact I don’t want it or need it. Nor am I looking for compliments.  But I needed to spill it somewhere, so I chose my blog. No matter what your practice is, no matter what lineage you follow, a daily, disciplined practice is really freaking hard.  No matter your capabilities physically, whether you have a studio/community accessible, or your age…it’s a struggle.  But I have found that the struggle is actually really beautiful.  The more I sit with these feelings of frustration and confusion, the more I realize I don’t miss out on anything.  In fact I get to experience so much more because my mind is a bit clearer every day, my heart opens up more every day, and I am a little bit healthier everyday.  Sure, you can say I am “lucky” to have this tool to supplement my life so, but is it easy??? No. Is it worth it? Abso-fucking-lutely.

xo

Ally

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7 thoughts on “No matter your age, it’s still a struggle. (yes this is a yoga post) (spain: day 72)

  1. YES! Thank you! I hear this all the time, Ally. I have been practicing yoga since I was 16 and it has been a blessing and a curse. Yoga saved me, gave me life but as I started to grow into myself I began to feel separated from those my age. Sometimes I feel like I am missing out because I found yoga so young. Everything you said, I relate 100%. So glad you shared this!

  2. hey, also 21 year old yogini here.
    I just feel so lonely lately, like I have no one to connect to. And if I had, wouldn’t they think I am crazy when I start to talk about alternative practices, a healthy life, diet, you name it? when socializing happens after sundown and I get dirty looks from the bartender if I just order a glass of orange juice..
    But as you said, this growth means that we started making conscious choices which we know with our body and heart to be the best for us. I smile more often now.

  3. Dear . We r rainbow of energy. It’s is Zorba and Buddha with in us. If u r one dimensional it’s creates sadist attitude. Hence balance the life with decipline and non decipline. Then u r true self .flow with how ever the energy flows. Then u r a true yogi.

  4. Ally,
    This is your test, this is your discipline. You get to chose here, nobody else does. You’re the one that will feel the benefit or detriment of this time. I respect what you are doing with much love, but more than that I respect with compassion what you are embarking on.
    After being an Ashtangi at your age, I threw in the towel and lived yoyo-ing between damaging my body in extreme sports and competitive endurance sports, interspersed with periods of mid-20s hard living which probably destroyed my mind even more than it did my body. Ekam inhale.
    To sweat through a Saturday morning led class while still coming down from the night before or to convince myself I’m still practicing when practice becomes half-primary once or twice a week to keep at bay my ITBS, or Achilles tendonitis, or plantar fasciitis, or other medical terms that seemed to sit on my credit card as long as my body, all the time in my mind reassuring “but I’m a yogin”. Dve exhale.
    To having that ‘real’ health scare when satya means saying “it’s kinda touch and go here” when someone phones to check on you. To restarting daily practice on the other side of the world and my new teacher commenting “how are you so stiff, how haven’t you progressed in this past year?” Trini inhale head up.
    To finally arriving at Mysore, seeing young’uns in 2nd series after only 2 years of practice, listening to someone with a 500h certificate saying “you’ll bind in Mari-d next week” and smiling, knowing it’ll be another decade, or more likely not at all. Catuari exhale.
    To coming back to my old teacher from all those years ago and she doesn’t remember my name or face. But me hers, how has she got younger? Another year passes of daily practice interspersed with injuries, and all is coming but very slowly in this cold. Panca inhale.
    Is it really the same for a flexible, energetic 22 year old? Yes it’s hard. It’s meant to be hard. Save this post of yours, and look at it in ten years. The triviality will slap you in the face: “do I take those shots?” you said. The same way my words above would slap me as trivial if they ever came back to me. Sat exhale. Take five breaths.
    You weren’t looking for sympathy or compliments, but you got both from me. It’s going to get harder, but it’ll get more rewarding too. You’ll learn to love yourself more. Your hard work will be worth it, your good decisions now will pay you back a thousand times.

    Much love. Magnus.

    1. Wow. Your words resonate deep, thank you for taking the time to reach out. What an honor. Ultimately I know this is worth it, but some days I question it. But I think I question it because I love it so much. Again, thank you for sharing you wisdom. I will do as you say and save this post, but also your comment. All my love!

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