There is no real guidebook for growing older. It happens to each of us every day, but with no hard-and-fast rules on how to handle it, the majority of us are left to our own devices. Women in particular have been socialized to believe that there is a direct link between their age and their value. As we grow older, society seems to suggest, our worth diminishes. Older women are pushed to the back burner and relegated to obscurity as the spotlight is shone on ever-more youthful individuals. In a world where this type of treatment is the norm, it’s no wonder that the older we get, the harder it is to feel valuable. But if we think back to our teenage years and reflect on all the growing we have done since then, most of us would agree that we have even more substance to offer the world now than we did then—not less. We have matured into stronger, more insightful versions of ourselves, and it’s time we started taking that aspect of aging more seriously.
For the third issue of our Aging Gracefully series, we were delighted by the opportunity to hear from Ana Forrest, a visionary yogi and philanthropist who’s been changing peoples’ lives for over 45 years. The co-creators of Forrest Yoga, Ana and her husband Jose Calarco believe that yoga is a powerful tool for both physical and emotional healing. We sat down with Ana to talk everything from gray hairs to cultivating self-respect at any age. We loved hearing what she had to say….
KG – What does "aging gracefully" mean to you?
As we age we need to step into becoming wiser...a Wisdom Keeper. Our life and what we have experienced matters. Cultivate self-respect for surviving. Part of becoming wiser is taking better care of ourselves and finding a way to contribute. How?
Breathe deeply for brain health, cell renewal, and emotional balancing.
Do yoga daily.
Become a healthy Vegan: contribute to your personal health, and help the planet to re-balance and heal. By becoming Vegan, I no longer contribute to the torture and murder of animals. I don’t have to kill to live!
Quest for what lights up your brain and do that daily.
Connect to your heart and do something that nourishes you.
Connect to your Spirit daily. Feel for what enchants your Spirit. Do that!
My life partner, Jose Calarco shares his contribution to this article: “Go Vegan. It’s time. Develop a program of insight; music, singing, learn and play an instrument, write, dance and do yoga with a passionate intent."
KG – How do you think society affects the way we feel about aging?
Current society has no honorable place for the aging woman. We need to create that ourselves. We can look to The First Nations people who honor the elders, and encourage the path of becoming a Wisdom Keeper for the People. We all want to matter. We’re all capable of gleaning out gems of wisdom from our life and living from those truths. It’s rewarding work, my friends!
KG – What are the advantages of growing older?
We have a bigger perspective and the possibility of perceiving more of the truth.
Experience is the best teacher. Instead of buying into our cultural conditioning about being useless, find different ways to be useful. At this turbulent time of humanity, we need our mature women stepping up to change the destruction of our planet, animals and children. We are over half of the population. We have power. We can make a difference. I advocate we all adamantly oppose the destruction of our planet & the industries that profit while destroying our home & our health.
KG – Do you think there’s a difference in the way we talk about men aging versus women?
There is the place of the ‘silver matriarch and patriarch,’ in the world of work or in family dynamics, yet there is the fear of becoming obsolete. Men are also taught soul crippling lies about the ‘young buck’ who will steal his place of importance. We are taught to be divisive instead of standing together to bring resolution to our problems. Can you change that cultural conditioning? That’s a worthy endeavor!
KG – What are ways we as women can support one another as we age?
Do yoga together. Change the way we communicate. For example, speak on Beauty Reports...
What touched your heart, then danced in your heart? What did you observe in a fresh way? What matters to you? What is precious to you? What was a personal breakthrough...like remembering to take deep breaths!
Support each other in intelligent nutritional strategy; check in with your friends, talk about how you are doing with making these awe inspiring life changes. How about cook delicious Vegan meals for each other! When we have a complaint, instead of just complaining, ask your friend to brainstorm with you to resolve the problem. Fun! Abstain from gossip. That pollutes the self, our listener, and the very air around us.
KG – What is one misnomer about aging you wish you could dispel?
That we don’t matter. That wrinkles decrease our value. My friends, stop believing lies. You matter immeasurably.
KG – How have you approached graying?
I’m quite intrigued by my ‘silvering’ patterns. They change each year. I am growing into my Medicine responsibilities as ‘Silver Crow.' I also enjoy the colours people put in their hair.
KG – In your experience, what role does yoga and mindful movement play in the aging process?
Movement is essential. We are made to be renewed through movement. Our brain, blood, cell tissue, emotions all need movement. Get help. Find the teachers that can meet you at your level and coach you into health. Procrastination builds suffering.
KG – Do you have any routines that you use to keep yourself feeling youthful?
Daily Forrest Yoga
Connect to Nature
Connect to love
Embody my Spirit
Do what feeds my aliveness
Challenging my rigidity in thinking or behavior
Learn something new. Learn from my Beloved: I’m learning from Jose. The intelligence of the Vegan way of life to help the planet - OMG, I had a lot of rigidity, misinformation and protein lies on that! New, gorgeous ways to run our business, drumming, singing, ancient songs and Jose’s originals. At 62, I am Jose’s backup singer! Lol! We are releasing an album this year.
KG – When it comes to transitions, we are often advised to “focus on the positive.” What’s one positive thing you think people should keep in mind about growing older?
Rebel against your conditioning about the inevitability of becoming a bitter old hag.
Redefine yourself in a way that builds your self-respect. Remove ‘old hag’ actions from your life.
Rinse the archived bitterness out of your cell tissue with daily yoga practice. Learn from what went wrong in life. Instead of crumbling beneath the weight of problems, (your own, your friends or the planet) become a brilliant problem solver!
KG – What do you think when you look in the mirror and see yourself changing over time?
For a long time, I deliberately abstained from using mirrors much. I found that mirrors, magazines, and media can increase the noise of the ‘nemesis thoughts’ like ‘I’m not enough.’
When I do look in the mirror and catch these foul thoughts, I choose to disobey what Jose and I call the ‘Motherfucker,’ or the bully in the mind. I choose to re-paradigm my relationship with who I see in the mirror. I look for the Wild Woman of the forests. I look for the healer, Medicine Woman, Creatrix, philanthropist and world teacher (by the way, they all are silvered with a skin that has been lived in. It wrinkles!) I look for who I am growing into....I now look for all the aspects that make me proud of myself.
KG – How can we open up the conversation about aging gracefully so that getting older doesn’t feel like such a taboo topic?
Taboo! That is an exciting way to start a conversation...let’s experiment with speaking the unspeakable. Isn’t that the purpose of this blog? Good job, KiraGrace.
KG – Do you have any mantras or specific inspirations you look to when it comes to easing your mind about aging?
Many! I set my intent to learn something. To remember to open my heart in Beauty not just seeing problems. I deliberately turn on love, of a person, the animals, the Tree Nation, Earth and the Starfields. I quest for inspiration. Today, I am inspired by a brave young woman named Greta Thunberg. She is speaking profoundly about what we all need to change. I ask myself, what can I do with the life I have remaining, to help resolve these planetary problems? Thank you, Greta.
KG – Do you have any upcoming events that you would like to share with our audience?
We travel around the world to many countries every year, and we invite you to experience the Good Medicine first hand. We have an advanced teacher training in Hong Kong in November, followed by workshops in Singapore and Australia. In 2020, we’ll be leading trainings in Salt Lake City, Berlin, and Dundee, Scotland. Through our workshops, teacher trainings, and music, we can fulfill our Spirit pledge; to Heal the Rainbow Hoop of the People.
If you liked this blog, check out our other blogs like "The Art of Aging Gracefully: Issue 4", "The Art of Aging Gracefully: Issue 2", "The Art of Aging Gracefully: Issue 1," and "Resources for Your Well-Being."