Adapt: (verb): to make (something) suitable for a new use or purpose; modify; become adjusted to new conditions.
Adaptable: (adjective): able to adjust to new conditions; able to be modified for a new use or purpose.
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I love a definition for clarity. In the school program my teens and I are part of, we start every learning discussion here: define what you’re talking about.
So when we talk about needing to adapt or that something is adaptable, it’s good to know what we’re talking about.
Adapt is a verb, and so something that actively happens, is actively happening all of the time for any kind of life evolution. The earth constantly trying to adapt to human’s use and abuse. Our human bodies, brains, and nervous systems actively working to adapt to the changing world and our changing ages and conditions. The yoghurt container we buy from the grocery store that we adapt into a container for seeds to grow. Much of this activity happens without us even seeing or experiencing the subtle, gradual changes until the changes are more monumental.
To be adaptable, a quality advective, is something that nature and humans might become as we notice the need to actively adapt. It requires a state of discernment, the ability to notice that change is necessary, and the willingness to live beyond a stuck notion of fixedness. We do not come to a pinnacle of being and simply remain at that pinnacle, unchanging. Life moves and changes, and so must we.
So when I heard last week during a presentation on the benefits of yoga as we age that people are hearing from their teachers that many of the poses or the practice as a whole is simply not available to them because of their aging wrists, hips, back, injured brain, or other changed body parts, I was saddened—not just for the students who are being cheated, but also for the teachers who will likely someday be a person who has moved into another physical state and will themselves need to adapt. After all, every single one of us is just one more day or one more illness away from aging into some kind of physical change that will require we adapt. So why aren’t we acknowledging that we’re adaptable?
This wasn’t the post I originally had in mind for today. After last week, it seemed important that it be. Why aren’t we acknowledging our ability to be adaptable, able to adjust to new situations and be modified? Why aren’t we acknowledging that we can learn how to make a wonderful practice suitable for a new purpose? I wonder: is it because we’ve become conditioned to see fitness as something for those who are already healthy? Or perhaps because we’re conditioned to see our physical pursuits as something that makes us better somehow than what we already are, rather than seeing how a practice can be made suitably new for our own personal needs?
These are questions I’ve been asking myself for some time now, especially when I struggled to find my own adapted practice at a time when I most needed one. Why was I unwilling to adapt, to be adaptable? When I faced that question and softened to the possibilities that lay within the unfolding answers, I did indeed discover a new use for my practice and a new me within the unfolding.
Yoga is a practice that not only helps our aging bodies—reducing the effects of osteoporosis, arthritis, back issues, respiratory and cardivascular decline, nerve pain, myofascial stiffening, and hormonal issues, it also helps significantly lessen the emotional impact of chronic illnesses and daily stress. And it is a practice with significant impact on our brains. Recent NIH research supports the vast ways that yoga counteracts the aging process, showing positive changes in markers associated with cellular aging after just a 12 weeks of practice, and better brain connectivity (meaning better working memory, spatial attention, and decision making skills) and a reversal of cognitive decline in seniors practicing consistently 2-3 times weekly.
Yet, in order for the practice of yoga to be accessible, it must also be adapted; we must be adaptable. This starts by acknowledging the barriers to the practice and adapting within these barriers; such as, the level of difficulty of a practice, fears of injury and creating awareness for safety, and our own lack of motivation. While it’s true that as we age we have to work more consistently at getting and staying mobile, we don’t have to work harder. We need to work with more discernment, more willigness to change, less mental fixedness around our physical changeability.
I can’t help but wonder, if we allow ourselves this physical grace, might we become better adapted to our changing world, more grace-filled and at ease with the ways humans are trying to evolve, better able to adapt ourselves to the needs of the earth? Could it be? I don’t know, but I am going to stay curious and allow myself and my practice to adapt, that I may be useful for all the changes to come.
I’ve been working for over a year to create a yoga course with Adapt Your Life Academy specifically designed for senior, beginners, and those just returning to mobility and fitness. The time has finally come for this course to release! I’ve worked hard to adapt myself and to understand how to give the tools to others to be able to adapt. Consider joining me for this opportunity. Click here for more information.
Allow, by Dana Faulds There is no controlling life. Try corralling a lightning bolt, containing a tornado. Dam a stream and it will create a new channel. Resist, and the tide will sweep you off your feet. Allow, and grace will carry you to higher ground. The only safety lies in letting it all in – the wild and the weak – fear, fantasies, failures, and success. When loss rips off the doors of the heart or sadness veils your vision with despair, practice becomes simply bearing the truth. In the choice to let go of your known way of being, the whole world is revealed to your new eyes.
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Oh yes, from not gardening for many hours to minding those no longer quick vinyasas, learning to work in smaller bits with more awareness. Thank you so much!
I love your opening line: “I love a definition for clarity. In the school program my teens and I are part of, we start every learning discussion here: define what you’re talking about.“ Thanks for focusing on adapt and adaptability today. Well worth pondering, especially as I have noticed changes in my ability to work on our garden and Koi pond this year. I am having to adapt, not only to what I can accomplish in smaller time segments than I used to do, but in my changes in my motivation to tackle the projects. Also, I’ve joined your waitlist for the course.