Yoga and Aging

To maintain the mental clarity that I need for my work, one of the things I try to do every day is exercise. Throughout the week, I do a variety of different exercises, including swimming and hiking, which I enjoy. However, my favorite activity is power yoga.

First, on the effect of exercise on mental acuity, there is solid research establishing this connection. I experienced this effect first-hand in my youth playing elite basketball. Rather than detracting from my academics, I believed at that the time that my vigorous basketball activities actually helped my brain. Modern research has vindicated these assumptions of youth.

Well, I'm not young anymore. I no longer feel a compulsion to exercise as I did in my youth. However, I'm still in excellent physical condition, with a low resting heart rate, and a slim, muscular build. I'm just saying that these days, I don't feel the internal need to exercise.

But I do understand the key role that exercise plays in mental processing, and sharp thinking is critical for the esoteric Jack Polymath work.

So how do I exercise when I don't feel like doing it? In the case of power yoga, I schedule the classes on my calendar, and choose the classes led by an instructor that I like. (BTW — this is how I survived the repetitive third year of law school; I just picked the professors that I liked.)

I like this yoga instructor because she warms us up slowly before "kicking our asses", after which she leads us in poses that cool us down gradually. She also introduces great variety between her classes and keeps the class moving with alternatives to the really challenging poses.

Regarding the title of this post, I've been doing yoga for 16+ years, and I have come to understand that the practice fosters:

  • strength
  • balance
  • flexibility
  • mobility
  • meditation

Look again at the first four attributes in that list. What characterizes youth is strength, balance, flexibility, and mobility. The following describes an old person: weak, imbalanced, inflexible, and immobile.

I'm not saying yoga is the fountain of youth. It can't turn an old goat into a romping kid. But I do believe that it slows the aging process, keeping our minds and bodies supple and lively.

And that is exactly what I need for my Jack Polymath work. I love this work. It excites me precisely because it is intellectually challenging, fascinating, and a lot of hard work. It can also, therefore, be exhausting. So my brain and my body need to be in tip-top shape to do this work and do it well.

Thank you yoga.