A few years ago, as I approached my 68th birthday, I begin typing words to describe what it feels like to age with Yoga as my support system. You see, I now have been practicing the art of Yoga for over five decades. It has always been the backdrop of virtually every one of my adult experiences. It began with a Hatha Yoga class at the New York Integral Institute, where I saw a photo of a man named Swami Satchidananda. His gaze in the photo was open and inviting and somewhat mesmerizing. I went to hear him speak soon after my first class at Integral and I think that my presence at that public talk was the beginning of my journey in Yoga.
As I embarked on this new “interest” in my life, Hatha Yoga was the practice that consumed me. I was a dancer. I loved to move and this Hatha Yoga template added another dimension to my understanding of how energy and movement coalesce with mindful attention to breath. As I continued to attend Yoga classes, I also continued to live my life as a performing artist, but something was changing. All the drama of the stuff of life seemed to be just that—drama. Without really understanding the shift that was taking place, I made a decision to live in an ashram. To this day I consider this choice key to establishing a lifelong Yoga practice. I would rise with my fellow ashramites very early for meditation and Hatha Yoga, eat vegetarian food that was prepared by the kitchen mother, study The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, chant, teach open Hatha Yoga classes, attend satsang and work in our health food store with other members of the community. All the effort in whatever we did was predicated on the teachings of Yoga. We had the good fortune to have a Guru to guide us. His presence was palpable whether or not he was actually physically with us.
And so my life continued to unfold within a trajectory that was not always what I envisioned. I married, had two beautiful children, divorced and struggled with depression. I continued to practice and teach Hatha Yoga during the years after I left the ashram, but it was not until the big life crisis/obstacles came along that I began to fully comprehend the gift of the profound teachings of Yoga that I was sure could support, heal, and nurture me until the end of my days.
And so it has been. The hills and valley still exist but with each passing day I realize that my connection to something greater than my body/mind allows me to step back, to take inventory, to make choices that are founded in gratitude for life.
The question often asked when students begin the study of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is, “What do you want most out of life.” Most people will answer, “I want happiness.”
In April of 2018, I made 72 trips around the sun on this planet earth. The ride has been what it has needed to be to lead this seeker to a deeper understanding of who she really is. My life now is fulfilling. I have gratitude for family and friends. I love my work. I have just fulfilled a life dream with a trip to Mother India. The adventures keep coming whether they are across the globe or right here in my home town. And my faith is unquestionably rooted in the practice of daily meditation, self-study, service, changing and a sense of humor! I believe that I have a singular opportunity in this life time to open my heart/mind to all beings, to all who I encounter. If I am peaceful, happy, and at ease I can rest assured that I reflect this energy. For now, at least, I rely on daily practice to help maintain my peace. It is a discipline with indescribable rewards!
I believe the healthy aging process is a magnificent opportunity to be fully aware and present in each moment. Perhaps this is because we are closer to death than to birth, so each day is like a precious jewel, the brilliance of which we cannot get enough of.
My hair is white, my face has more wrinkles, my step is slower, but these things are just the stuff of a natural progression like the mantra AUM—a beginning, some time in between, and an ending.
About the Author:
Kali Morse, E-RYT 500, currently serves as Director of Teacher Trainings at Integral Yoga Institute, New York City. She has taught Hatha Yoga and meditation in many different settings and has been training Hatha Yoga teachers in the Integral Yoga system for more than two decades.