February Yoga Challenge: Day 22, Which is better; Looking Ahead or Looking Behind?

“Youth and Age”, H. Vali via Saatchi Vali Art

“Do you suppose you will look the same when you are an old woman as you do now? Most folk have three faces—the face they get when they’re children, the face they own when they’re grown, and the face they’ve earned when they’re old. But when you live as long as I have, you get many more. I look nothing like I did when I was a wee thing of thirteen. You get the face you build your whole life, with work and loving and grieving and laughing and frowning.”

― Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

I often wonder why The Ashtanga Primary series constantly switches directions for the standing poses. Having finished the teacher training, I understand how logically it is more effective. It is easier to flow through Trikonasana (triangle pose), Parsvakonasa (extended side angle pose), and Virabhadrasana A-B (Warrior one and two) by simply turning back and forth from the back to the front of the mat.

But yoga is more than just a physical exercise. It mirrors a deeper, more personal experience running parallel to our physical attentiveness. Since I started my teacher training, I always feel jumbled switching sides for the standing, extended postures. Funnily enough, after going through my yoga practice for the day, I started thinking about how these feelings extend into my everyday life.

Then it hit me all at once during my run. How we see the world and face its challenges varies as we age, as does our attitude towards life’s challenges. Much of our life is also centered on longing. Children long for experience and respect. Young Adults long for purpose and direction. Mothers and Fathers wistfully yearn for personal space and better finances. Single adults long for marriage, married adults long for personal time and freedom from obligations. And so the list goes on.

It takes a special eye to see the value of the life we are living in the moment. Every stage of life is valuable and needed for our personal growth. Taking time to do yoga helps in developing a mindful perspective. Just as we move forward, change our gaze, and shift directions on the mat, we steadily evolve on our life journey.

Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow.