Thoughts on Age, Yoga and Social Media

Have you ever noticed how social media posts and media articles in general follow trends in exactly the same way as fashion on the High Street? Or perhaps it's me reacting in the same way as I do when I've acquired something in a brand I've never had a high awareness of before. Before I owned a little Honda car I'd never noticed how many there are on the roads - they're everywhere in vast numbers! Recently I've seen, and read, articles on mistakes young people make teaching older yogis, stuff about the benefits to senior citizens yoga brings, an item on whether or not social media has ruined yoga, and a highly thoughtful personal blog post about the relationship of that person to social media and how they feel about it. As this reflects much of the random content my own brain turns over regularly I thought I'd add my two penn'orth to the mix.

I happen to be an older yogi who does look at, and use, some limited social media. However, it's worth considering that all of us over a certain age lived the vast majority of our lives to date without it. Ditto, mobile phones, and even the internet itself. Yoga, of course, managed perfectly well in spreading its teachings and message throughout communities long before all our modern western gizmos arrived. Many of the older students I meet in my classes do not have an e mail address, or in some cases, a mobile phone and yet they share their lives with family and friends and turn up to class smiling in the pleasure of each others company. How then did I arrive at the point where on the occasions where I do not have internet access I feel vaguely anxious? When thinking about this I realised that it's my old friend and sparring partner called 'attachment'! Nobody makes me look at Facebook or my news feed, and if I can't send an e mail for a few days the world does not come to an end. I know all this but occasionally act as though I don't. So much for the wisdom of age! What I do acknowledge is that beyond all the nonsense and ego filled content clogging up all our inboxes and feeds, that there is real sharing of knowledge, technique, and much more importantly kindness and love which has a real role in making us feel connected and embraced by the wider world. I agree with the conclusion that others have reached that social media is a tool like any other; it's how we choose to use it that counts, including ensuring that we don't feed our attachment gremlin or other insecurities on the way.

I have a similar instinctive response to the age question. Yes, there are some younger yoga teachers who have no concept of what its like to live in an older body and mind and they fill the gap with their own misconceptions and prejudices even when kindly meant. Thankfully these teachers are relatively rare, and just as we as teachers have a responsibility to our students, as students we have a responsibility to ourselves to select and stick with, teachers that provide the right level of support for us as we learn. It's simple enough; if we don't enjoy a teacher's style irrespective of their age we need to find another class/teacher. We are generally still the people we were when we were younger. If we liked a challenge at 25, the probability is we still will at 65, and the same goes for many personality traits that show up in our behaviour. Having gone through some of life's tougher realities we are grateful for what we can do and what we have in our lives. Our egos remain intact but for the most part we're not fooled by their tricks. We know ourselves that little bit better and can forgive ourselves for the occasional lapse like trying too hard to achieve a pose and forgetting that's not the point.  Similarly I find it easy to forgive what looks like ego driven marketing by those younger, fitter, more beautiful souls whose photos grace Instagram, workshop advertisements and media generally. I know that they too have their gremlins to wrestle with, have undoubtedly had their own struggles along the way and have nothing but respect and admiration for the time they have invested in their own practice to get to that level. My own ego would enjoy just a fraction of their grace and elegance - but that would be feeding the beast now wouldn't it?!