For the launch of her third book PRO Age Yoga, Manduka has had the pleasure of discussing Healthy Aging with its founder Elena Lustig. Elena has dedicated herself to the topic of aging: When do we start getting older? How can we stay healthy, be happy and live fulfilled lives? The Berlin based yoga teacher and meditation teacher (RYT500), certified coach and author took the time to answer a few of our questions about her life experience and the concepts and benefits to be found within her teachings.
"Aging challenges you? The sooner you start actively shaping your lives so that you are mentally and physically fit, the easier this path will be for you. Radical self-care is the motto." Elena Lustig
What is your background and how did you come to find yourselves on the path of wellness and mindfulness?
When I started practicing Yoga more than 30 years ago, I first of all wanted to save my health from an insane work environment: I was a film editor from my early twenties on… This job means to sit every day for more than 10 hours at a computer, clicking without moving, being absolutely focussed on several screens – mostly with tight deadlines.
Becoming a mother at 37 completely changed my life. That’s how I became yoga teacher, teaching 2 hours weekly – still editing films. Ten years later I founded ProAgeYoga – watching myself growing older and being in peace with the changes I was facing.
As the founder of PRO Age yoga, can you give us an introduction to your concept and teachings?
My first principle is AHIMSA – being non-violent.
Growing older can be challenging, it can be brutal sometimes. We watch ourselves going downhill. We lose strength, flexibility, confidence. Especially women start to feel invisible. ProAgeYoga is an attitude: we choose to be PRO because we can't fight aging and we focus on the benefits! ANTI will become more and more exhausting the older we get. Being ProAge means to embrace what becomes better and deal with the challenges in a positive way!
How did you start upon your path of Pro Age Yoga?
When I was 29, I had a dream of my mother dying. This dream was like a wakeup call for me. I wanted to find answers to the most profound questions in life such as: what is Karma, are we being reborn, how do we deal with sickness and death? So I started to study and practice Buddhism and learned the meditation of conscious dying called Phowa. This path gave me a lot of trust and confidence – embracing aging and dying as a natural part of the circle of life. I had the strong wish to share this with as many people as possible! For ProAgeYoga I combined the best of both worlds: Yoga and Buddhism.
Tell us about the people that make up your community?
Growing older in western society is more challenging for women. Living in a patriarchy, we need to be young and fertile to be of value. Most women struggle a lot with menopause – not only because it might be a big physical change, but also because we learn that we are not young women anymore, that we become less attractive and somehow “invisible”. We need to understand that being an older and wiser women, is super beneficial for other women and for our society. We are mentors, we are role models, we are beautiful, because beauty is not defined by having no wrinkles!
You just released your third book - Pro Age Life. What people can expect to learn through your latest work?
It is a practical guide to healthy, happy and confident aging.
You find yoga for any age, body or physical ability, input about hormones, tips for food and nutrition and affirmations plus meditations for a strong, confident mindset.
What are your three top habits/practices/tips to anyone reading this who is wanting to prepare their mind and body for the future?
Three things are essential: physical workout, healthy food and a positive mindset – plus good sleep!
For many people aging is something that they fear because of the physical changes, how do you help your community to prepare and thrive with these natural changes?
From very early age on we learn to focus on problems and deficits. We need to learn, that aging is not the worst phase in life and that death is not the ultimate catastrophe. It is part of the process. Imagine we would live forever… Just think it through: we could not have children, there would be no evolution. Knowing that there is an end helps us to really embrace life and be present in every moment.
You speak about conscious dying and the learnings that we can take from this, how has this practice helped to shape your life's journey so far?
When my mother died, I held her hand and I went through the process of letting go with her. I did my practice for her and it helped her to finally die peacefully. Three weeks later I got pregnant with my son – the child I was hoping for, for many years. Buddhists believe that there is a strong karmic bond between mother and child. Maybe she came back? Who knows?
After all I don't feel anxious, afraid, helpless when life shows its full range. To me it feels like a drop of water that separates from the ocean for a short period of time and then reunites. We become human beings, we get a body, we live in this body for a while and then we leave it – reuniting with the space we came from.
Tell us more about yourself. What can we find you doing on a daily basis?
I love to do 1:1 Mentoring with women who want to find their calling, their dharma in life. Most women spent the first half of their lives serving society as mothers, partners, colleagues etc. Many start to look for meaningful changes in their personal life, their relations, their partnerships when they reach their mid-forties.
I love to teach ProAgeYoga Teacher trainings and inspire other teachers to appreciate aging the same way as I do. I also offer online-courses, retreats and zoom yoga classes. AND: my first book about growing older “Pro Age Yoga” will be published in April in English as an ebook!
Any final parting words of wisdom you can share to our yogic community?
One fine day we will leave this body. Until then: let us be grateful for what has been given to us and use it to our own best and to the benefit of all beings.
About Elena Lustig:
Elena is a certified Anusara Yoga teacher, certified coach, meditation teacher, Buddhist and author of the books "Pro Age Life" "Pro Age Yoga" and "Inside. Outside" She has dedicated herself to the topic of aging: When do we start getting older? How can we stay healthy, be happy, look good and live fulfilled lives? Elena offers yoga teacher training, retreats, workshops, coaching, mentoring and talks.