Do not kill the instinct of the body for the glory of the pose. - Vanda Scaravelli
It's not unusual for my clients to express some fear that it's too late for them. That they are too old to find their calling, to follow a passion or even to change old behaviours. I get it - I'm certailnly not a stranger to that place.
A confession: I, the dedicated yoga student and teacher, took a week intensive with Jill Miller in January 2011 in California. My dad had just died in Dec 2010, so I spent every savasana of this intensive with a face wet with silent tears. Then I came home from California and dropped my yoga practice cold. For a full year. I have no idea why. It doesn't really matter. I did the occasional downward dog here and there, but I did not once roll out my mat . Not once did I do an intentional yoga practice. I thought maybe it was over. I thought maybe I would never do yoga again.
And then early this month, Feb 2012, I just got up one day, dug my mat out of the closet, rolled it out and started to play with poses. I have no idea why. It doesn't really matter. I've been having so much fun. I've lost some poses - I used to be able to just pop up into headstand - not now. That's OK. I feel like I needed that space to come back to my mat in a fresh way. I've given up muscling through poses and I'm working with them from instinct instead of force.
My role model is Vanda Scaravelli and her concept of allegrezza. She came to yoga in her mid 40s and practiced for the next 50 years. I am 45 - I realize I've only just begun. I can't wait to see what the next 50 years bring.
The daughter of artistic Italian parents, wife of a professor of philosophy, and an accomplished pianist, Vanda Scaravelli was accustomed throughout her life to meeting creative artists, intellectuals, and literati. The Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti came to stay at the Scaravelli's villa overlooking Florence every year. When Scaravelli's husband died suddenly after World War II, she soon began spending summers with her children at a chalet in Switzerland, where she hosted Krishnamurti during his lectures there. B. K. S. Iyengar would come every morning to teach him yoga; he introduced Scaravelli, then in her 40s, to the ancient discipline, and "a new life came into my body." Thus began her ongoing exploration of what she called allegrezza, "the intelligent heart." - Phil Catalfo
Allegrezza. I wrote the word on a big sheet of paper and hung it in my office. What a gorgeous word. What a gorgeous idea. What a gorgeous example Vanda is.
Vanda's wild wisdom from her beautiful book Awakening the Spine:
There is no beauty without love and there is no love without beauty.
What is beauty? Are love and beauty interconnected? Does beauty derive from love? Or does love derive from beauty?
You will discover the amazing transformation in a person when she is loved, she blossoms, becoming more beautiful each day.
When we love what we are doing there is beauty in it and even the more insignificant work becomes attractive.
Love has no barriers, it is like a pool spring, pouring water endlessly. And it is perhaps this absence of limitation that gives wings to fly.
Beauty is the absence of a definite determined action, the freedom from slavery to an already formed ideal that drives us in a particular direction eliminates all other possibilities to wander among the many adventurous, and sometimes dangerous, roads. Beauty gives also the pleasure to uncover and the luxury to lose.
Watch Vanda's beauty at 85 - "flowers blossom in spring, and then they blossom again in autumn".
It's never too late.