50 not out (Part 1 ).
Being the younger brother of four older sisters (and the only boy…go figure!) I’ve always been young at heart – and mind some may say. But all that changed last February when I hit the big Five 0. Getting to 50 didn’t change my sibling status – I’ll always be the younger brother in my sister’s eyes but I suddenly realised I ain’t no spring chicken anymore. Having two young kids (Boo is 5 and Easy is 2) (oh Boo wants you to know she is actually 5 and a half, the half is very important) can be massively exhausting. Added into that mental and physical parenting responsibility, I’m also teaching a Mysore programme in sunny Culver City, West Side Los Angeles (Los Angeles Ashtanga Yoga) and also trying to maintain my own Ashtanga Yoga practice (consisting of primary, intermediate, all of advanced A and some of advanced B). Something had to give as I just didn’t have the energy for everything.
I managed to find a good kids home that would take both Boo and Easy together – didn’t want to have to split them up – that would be mean, no? Ok I’m joking here – put the phone down you don’t need to call CPS. The odd one out from the above list had to be the Ashtanga practice – well not all of it, but certainly the advanced practices would have to go. It was just impossible to keep it up and have energy for the kids and the Mysore students. It was a struggle at first making these changes, I’ve been practicing full on for over 20 years and had grown to love those arm balances in third series and leg behind shoulder blade in the fourth, but it was time to say farewell. Although Ashtanga is viewed as mainly a physical practice (usually from those who don’t actually do it) there is a very large mind component to it. It takes a lot of mental focus to balance on your elbows (Sayanasana) or on your chin (viparitta salabasana) let alone the attention needed to stop oneself from screaming ‘WTF am I doing putting my foot in my armpit’ (yoga dandasana). So for now it’s a little bit of primary here and a soupçon of intermediate there, I’ve been doing this zen meditation thing now for 10 years so I’ve got that to help out with my (sometimes incredibly illogical) brain chemistry.
Not only did the body practices have to change, but what I was putting into it (ie my aging knackered body), had to change significantly too. Not that I’m a McDonalds loyalty card holder or anything, in fact I eat a pretty good vegetarian diet washed down with copious amounts of green tea (well it’s actually Oolong tea that I import from Taiwan, darling. In fact I’m a walking cliché …vegetarian yoga teacher who studies Zen Buddhism and drinks green tea – if the 25 year old me met the 50 year old me they’d be plenty of piss taking). But I’m dog tired, my mind and body are in dire need of a reboot. My wife suggested I take myself off to a meditation retreat for a week or two to re-charge the batteries but we both realised she’d be stuck with both kids on her own, so by the time I’d get back she’d be needing the meditation retreat too. On the advice of a dancer friend of mine from La La land (no not Los Angeles, but Liverpool England – everybody calls each other La in the ‘Pool – ‘Alrite there La’ meaning hello there friend) who had been in similar predicament to me, I started some new, at least to me, uber cool detox programme that was going to put some zip back in my zap. This blog marks day two of the 30 day detox and so far so, well for a start I can’t eat chocolate with it so I need to be seeing some results pretty sharpish if my candy bars are to stay in the wrapper. I’ll update you of any developments in the next installment of this blog entitled My Detox Hell 🙂 .