December 23, 2013

What Peyton Manning Teaches Us About Staying in the Game.

The best part about Peyton Manning breaking the NFL record for the most touchdowns scored in a single season is that some said he was too old to play.

In fact—and I would call this karma—Manning’s historic effort came during a game against the Houston Texans, who passed on Manning two years earlier when he was a 35-year-old free agent.

In fairness to the Texans, Manning was coming back from a neck injury. But he was also, in sports years, old.

Sports years are like dog years where you age seven for every one that you play.

The sports industry in general is not kind to older athletes. There is always someone who is going to be younger, stronger and faster coming up through the ranks like a locomotive on steroids. Our culture worships the win, and not necessarily the wisdom in a game.

But wisdom and patience are virtues of the older athlete, and the older yogi.

“Endurance is not a young person’s game,” said Diana Nyad, the Olympic Gold Medal swimmer who does not give up. “I thought I’d even be better at 60 than I was at 30. You have a body that’s almost as strong, but you have a much better mind.”

But you also have a body that’s not as strong.

Besides Manning, there are also others who didn’t’ quit, who kept going, and going, and going. Satchel Paige pitched a game in baseball at 59. Dara Torres entered the Olympics at 41, along with 10 others who were older than 50! Nyad at 64 swam from Cuba to Florida.

And, um, I published my first book at 50 years old, which some think is a miracle (myself included).

I am of a certain age and every day there are younger, stronger and sexier yogis whose thighs don’t rub together coming up through the ranks. We may be yogic, but we are still a celebrity-obsessed culture.

Whenever I see my older yogi friends this is what we talk about: “How much longer can we do this?”

How much longer can we earn a living by essentially, standing on our heads or our hands? Just demonstrating the poses can be challenging to an older body that is not warmed up. My motto is, “It’s always something.”

I thought that teaching yoga would be about the wisdom gained in the practice, about the patience earned by trying a pose over and over again, about resilience from not giving up. And it is, but it’s also about those who can put their foot behind their head and balance on a wire.

Endurance is not a young person’s game. I stand with other older yogis who are still here. Every. Damn. Day. Some may think we are too old to be on the cover of a magazine, or to write a book, or to teach yoga at a national conference.

But then there is Peyton Manning, breaking records when others are retiring. How much longer can older yogis do this and be considered relevant to a youth-obsessed society? I don’t know.

But if Manning can do it, I’m willing to find out.


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Editor: Bryonie WIse

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