Transition In The Vedic Stages Of Life

It was so fun to have a yogi friend visit this week. We got to play on the new wall ropes, use the yoga toys and props from the old Bear Foot Yoga Studio and buy a new gong! My dear friend Liz first showed up in my life at an “Introduction to Yoga” workshop I offered at my studio in 2016. She was brand new to yoga. Since then, she has had a regular practice and completed her 200 hour teacher training and was a fantastic teacher at my studio.

I share this in recognition that I live vicariously in Liz’s stage of her yoga journey. From creation to preservation, her enthusiasm and dedication to the practice make me feel like a successful teacher. And young at heart! Her attitude also reminds me what it was like to be in my 30’s, completely engaged in the physical practice of asana, and having goals like perfecting handstand. 15 years ago, I was a human sponge for anything yoga, particularly new postures. Putting in the work to master new poses was a voluntary venture that got me out of my comfort zone but gave me presence of mind. Physical development was what I needed to find my authentic self. Whether I was successful or failed at acquiring a new pose, it was all by my own doing, and I did it for no one but myself. An attempt at pose mastery was my mental health.

The Difficult Admission

Yoga has lost some of its splendor. Specifically yoga asana. Some time late in the pandemic, the progression of my yoga asana came to a standstill. I stopped challenging myself to do new postures; or to do any postures that I don’t enjoy for that matter. There has been a physical demise that I attribute to a number of changes including the studio closing, not teaching 14+ classes per week, losing my students, moving away from familiar yoga classes and teachers I like, and the transition of my most motivational yoga partner Bodhi dog. There have also been some positive changes like gaining awe-inspiring hiking out my door.

The Four Stages Of Life

According to Vedic tradition, there are 4 stages in life. Pushing myself physically and the excitement of pursuit is part of the “household life” (grihastha) stage. In this stage, my daily roles were that of care taker and educator to my three children and teacher to my students. I built and maintained a home, fulfilled social requirements and pursued goals (like yoga poses!). The work of discovering my soul purpose kept me on the run, up past my bed time socializing, constantly seeking knowledge and testing my physical boundaries. With no expectations, I would reach for more with Pitta passion, but typically be satisfied with what I had and could do. I was often surprised at my own strength, resilience and discipline, with occasions of doubt and exhaustion. For me, the householder stage was about co-creating loving energy in my young humans, finding like minded souls and designing a life where failed adventures are opportunities to gain self knowledge.

The Delightful Realization

Unlike beautiful Liz, I am not in my 30’s anymore. The forest dweller in me (vanaprastha stage of life) is subtly sneaking in. Having recently moved to rural Ireland, symbolically, I can relate to the idea of going into the forest. I’m happy to be done with material pursuits (I have my gong now!), sit out the busy schedule, and use the rain as an excuse to hermit. I’m still here for you and happy to talk over a cup of tea, or on WhatsApp . Where yoga asana continues to provide a foundation of physical strength and mobility, I accept that my peak poses have peaked. The inner voice speaks clearly. I can creatively and playfully explore my signature style of yoga. I recognize my physical limitations, and even celebrate that backing off the every day intense asana has actually allowed some grumpy places in the body to heal. Out of the absence of testing my limits in asana has grown an abundance of grace. This suites the aging process well. That’s fundamental now as the mirror has a gentle way of reminding me through gray hair and lines on my face – my body is mortal. Yet, I will preserve my earth suit to the best of my ability. My yoga has always relied diligently on pranayama and meditation. There is a gratitude for the potential to deeply embrace those facets in moving more toward spiritual pursuits.

My mastery is no longer worthy of Instagram. It is invisible in the form of embodiment. Perhaps next week I will decide to try to kick up into a handstand for old time sake; no cameras please. The mind camera is focused on sharing my life’s work in a way that might be helpful to someone.

Peace and Light, Megan

PS The photo is of a very happy me walking through Dublin across the river Liffey with my new gong!!!

Participate in my YouTube practice with Liz “Assessment and Solutions for the neck and Shoulders”:

4 thoughts on “Transition In The Vedic Stages Of Life”

  1. Hi, what a beautiful, open share, thankyou 🙏
    It seems when we can actually live a more yogic life, rather than simply being focused on asana, we can transition through our stages in life with a sense of grace and ease. The asana being our teacher and in deeply listening to our body’s story and prompts, we become aware that we have been, and are, embodied in a practise that is life long and truly dance to the time of our individual soul self

    Bright blessings
    Mandy x

    1. Dear Mandy, Thank You for your thoughful comment and for the read. Yes, Yoga is more than a practice we do occasionally. I appreciate that part of it even more with aging! Peace, Megan

  2. Oh I hear you and see you Megan!
    I’m on a similar trajectory although a little further along into the forest (at 64).
    I stopped doing headstands and handstands a few years ago too – especially discouraging when I kicked up one day in my yoga room and my foot went through the plasterboard!
    I rarely go to public yoga classes anymore as I’m simply not interested in hot, fast, sweaty vinyasa for the sake of it. I know I’d probably feel the old good glow afterwards but I really don’t want any injuries from pushing myself beyond my physical limits.
    I go the gym to stay fit and build bone density and muscle now. And my practice is mostly somatics or rolling around on the floor to relieve a sore bit. I’m more interested in meditation now and how my mind in body works than striving to maintain my flexibility.
    But I very much appreciate your videos. You have a wonderful way of teaching that stimulates my curiosity and inspires my somatic classes. So here’s to being forest dwellers and finding kindred spirits. Thank you for your work and play. One day I’d love to hear that gong. 🙂

    1. Eeek – plasterboard! good story! My issue is more that my arthritis in my wrists talks way too loud holding handstand these days. And. I find the headstander tool remarkable, as well as my pelvic swing at the wall. More props and tools please! And I have always practiced on my own, as that is the way I started. Weight lifting is so wonderful. My son tried to get me back into weight lifting, but we settled on a set of hanging rings in the studio for core training and play. And like you, most of my traditional hatha has been replaced by somatics…lovely rolling and spiraling. The hiking and kayaking opportunities in Ireland fill the rest of my graceful ageing needs! Thanks for your support and connection. PS Unfortunately the sound of the gong does not translate well on video, but we are working on it. Xo Megan

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