7 Ways to Age Gracefully

Living Yoga

1982-05-29 Nana & Sarah-cropped

Aging well seems to have gotten confused with staying young, and it’s a shame because I think we’re missing out on the beauty and wisdom of the aging process.

We are all aging. At this point in human history, there is ultimately no alternative to growing old. Rather than spending so much time, energy, and money on resisting it, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could accept it, cherish it, and enjoy it?

I know a radical acceptance of aging would be a huge shift, but here are some ways we might start to move in that direction:

Honour aging as a gift

I volunteered with a camp for kids with cancer for ten years, and from that experience, I developed a deep appreciation for the gift of growing old. When I hear people bemoaning how old they are, the thought in my head is usually, “Would you really prefer the alternative?”

Honour those who didn’t get a chance to grow old by cherishing the whole spectrum of the human life.

Re-frame the experience

I once read about someone who always referred to wrinkles as life lines. I love this re-frame. We are sometimes over-focused on the wonderful things about being young. What about the wonderful things about growing old?

A sense of freedom seems to be one – freedom from excessive worrying, freedom from what other people think, and freedom from the pressure of appearing successful. Challenge yourself to see the wonder and beauty in growing old.

Look forward, not back

Instead of focusing on how much more physically capable you were at 19 or how much younger you looked at 25 – and using extreme measures to try and move yourself back in time – spend your time and energy thinking about how you want to feel and how you want to be able to move when you are 85 years old. What choices can you make now to support your physical, mental, and emotional well-being as you age? How do your priorities shift if you focus on remaining strong and agile in your old age instead of trying to accomplish the physical feats of your young age?

Extra Yoga Teacher Tip: Start watching people who move well when they are older (and people who don’t). You might be surprised by what you see, and it might have a profound effect on how you practice.

Spend more time with older people

One of the wonderful things about older people is that they have a whole lifetime’s worth of stories to share. And the wisdom and experience in their stories is not only inspiring, it is important. Historically, many cultures have had strong traditions of passing down wisdom from the elders in the community. Sadly, we are living in a time where the life experience of our elders seems to be cast aside because it doesn’t support us in being more productive or using modern technology.  With the rapid evolution of technology, the elders of today are a unique generation. Their stories of how the world has changed – good and bad – over the course of their lifetimes can offer us great insight and a bigger perspective and guide us moving forward.

Spend as much time as possible with loved ones

It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day demands of living a “successful” and “productive” lifestyle, but when it comes down to what fulfills us, the single biggest contributor is strong connections with loved ones. The evolutionary argument posits that humans are social animals and we have evolved to be in groups. Because we have always needed others for survival, the need for human relationship is in our genes, and social connection leaves us feeling more relaxed and at peace, which is strongly related to better health.

Keep living

Aging well requires living well. Keep dreaming. Keep dancing. Keep laughing. Don’t use “I’m too old” as an excuse for not learning new things, taking new adventures, or pursuing your dreams. We have an uncertain number of years in our lifetimes and we built a fulfilling life by living each day wholeheartedly.

But in living fully, remember the wise words of Judith Lasater: “If you want to life a happy life, never do as much as you can.”

Practice yoga

Yoga postures (asana) are a popular tool in the yoga practice and can be a great tool for keeping your body limber as you age, but they are only one of tools of yoga. The holistic practice of yoga is a collection of tools intended to support us in finding more ease and joy in life. Some of the other tools are philosophy, life-style choices, breath work, meditation practices, and relaxation training.

There is nothing that I would recommend more wholeheartedly to support living well, aging well, and being well than the holistic practice of yoga.

The philosophy and tools of yoga teach us over and over again that to do something well we have to be willing to accept where we are at. To age well, to age gracefully, we must be able to accept – and honour – that we are aging.



Train Yourself to Do Yoga Everyday – Advice from a Recovering Binge Yogi

Living Yoga Tapas Yoga


Having a daily yoga practice is not that hard. But letting go of ideas and convictions around what that daily practice should look like can be messy, emotional, ego-ridden, and sometimes mind-blowingly hard.

The main reason people struggle to develop a daily yoga practice is because they are holding on to some idealized version of that experience will look like. People often blur the lines around what it means to practice yoga and what it means to exercise. Yoga is a collection of tools intended to support human well-being and happiness, and some of those tools exercise the body. If you really want a consistent daily yoga practice, you need to let go of the idea that your yoga practice will also be your exercise routine. Your yoga practice will need to overcome illness, injury, and fatigue. For most people to develop a consistent daily practice, they have to be willing to start at a place that might feel painfully small and almost pointless.


Because, over the long-term, smaller consistent amounts of yoga are more beneficial than longer bouts done less regularly.

Years ago, I was more of a binge yogi. I would go through phases where I did copious amounts of yoga, attending multiple classes a day and reveling in the high of my practice. Then, a few weeks or so later, I would go a whole week without doing any yoga because I felt like I was just too busy to fit it in.

The teacher training program that I took in 2009 placed a very strong emphasis on practicing every day, and with my binge yogi tendencies, I found myself floundering under that demand. Moderately practicing yoga wasn’t nearly as sexy; I felt like trying to do so didn’t honour me and my rhythms. At that time, a different teacher of mine taught me more about tapas and the importance of consistency and suggested a 5 minute daily practice to start.

It changed my life. Five minutes a day was doable and I did it. And, I kept doing it. Over time, my minimum daily practice has built up to 40 minutes, and it still blows my mind that I have been able to achieve that baseline consistency in my practice. I don’t question the things I used to question. I just do my practice.

I often write about the power of consistency because it has been a striking force of transformation in my life. The key is having the courage and the humility to meet yourself in the place where you are truly able to be consistent.


To start, your daily practice should be determined by your answer to this question:

On your most busy, stressful, and overwhelming day, how much time do you have to practice yoga?

Be really honest when you answer that question. For most people, I suggest 5 minutes to start, but for some people, it might be best to start with 1 minute. Often people respond to my 5 minute suggestion from the motivation and enthusiasm that comes with beginnings and say, “I think I can do 10-15 minutes.”

I raise my eyebrows, stare intently, and say, “Really?”

The aspect of the yoga practice we are working with is tapas. A translation of tapas is: consistency in striving towards your goals. The key word here is consistency, because consistency builds commitment. The more consistently you do something, the more likely you are to keep doing it.

So, in beginning a daily practice, the most important part of the practice is consistency, and the key to achieving consistency is, again, realistically answering this question:

On your most busy, stressful, and overwhelming day, how much time do you have to practice yoga?

When I look at you and say, “Really?” You should be able to confidently respond, “Yes, Sarah, I will be able to do this much yoga every single day.”

Once you have determined the minimum length of your daily practice, I recommend committing to a specific type of practice for that time. For example, your daily practice might be five minutes of pranayama (breath work) or five minutes shavasana or two minutes of asana focused on poses that stretch your hamstrings.

I suggest having a journal or calendar to record your practice and hold yourself accountable. Something I often do is visit timeanddate.com to create a printable PDF calendar.

The final step is simply not going to bed until you have marked off your practice for the day. If you come home from the bar at 2am in the morning and you haven’t done your five minute meditation, then you take 5 minutes and mediate.

Can you do more yoga than this during the day?

Absolutely! You can indulge in hours of yoga practice if you have the time and desire. This approach is about building a consistent foundation of yoga to develop a daily commitment.