In Parts I & II, the experience of being young no matter what your chronological age is broken down to two initial fundamentals: attitude and assessment. I made the point early on that you don’t have to be practicing yoga to benefit from including these basic order-inducing concepts and actions that solidify your health and vivacity. The catch is that these are based in yoga philosophy, the underpinning of growth and transformation. Your attitude will propel you through objective assessments to administer proper action and obtain life changing life purpose.

Have you ever heard others say that yoga makes you look 10 to 20 years younger than most people your age? I’ve met many people that practice yoga regularly, attending classes, even teaching classes, and they’ve all pretty much looked exactly their age. Some of them definitely looked good, vibrant, and some even very good for their age, but they looked their age. My point is that just doing yoga isn’t going to bring comprehensive feelings, experiences, and outward results akin to a magical fountain of youth. What will keep you as strong and healthy as you can be without fail are proper nutrition, proper sleep and rest, proper amounts of physical activity, and mental stability. This is yoga, and you never have to roll out a sticky mat and flow through a vinyasa to experience this.

You can research what is proper for you in each of the above categories on your own and I don’t intend to give strict opinions here on what works for me. I can give nondiscriminatory advice, however, that will benefit most people, and this advice can be compared to your current personal assessment to coerce a decision to take action.

Be very specific about what you will and will not eat. Even if you are healthy and fit, attempt to limit or diminish the amount of sugar you allow to enter your body. For most of human existence on earth sugar has been present in very controlled and limited amounts compared to the sugar explosion of the last century in modern civilization. Sugar and sugar-related compounds have spawned, through overuse, many illnesses, and you must show great restraint from what you may have gotten used to. To keep this simple and realistic, don’t worry too much about honey, agave nectar, and naturally occurring sugars in fruits. Exclude all other sugars, which would include “added sugars” in products, sucrose, fructose, dextrose, maltose, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup, processed sugar, evaporated cane juice (a fancy phrase that means sugar), and especially products that have high sugar quantity measured in grams per serving. Sugar is a carbohydrate, and although we need carbohydrates for our bodies to function properly and perform well under stress, also be very aware of how many carbohydrates you consume throughout the day and during each meal. If your daily intake of protein and carbohydrates meets a general proportion weighted more toward proteins, you have a better chance of not ingesting more carbohydrates than your body needs to create energy, thereby avoiding high blood sugar levels and the possibility of storing fat subcutaneously. For a more detailed explanation of typical protein requirements and food sources for obtaining favorable amounts of proteins to proportion your diet, see my January 27, 2011 entry entitled The Argument for Vegetarianism, Part 2.

Drink water instead of sweetened beverages, vigilantly. Don’t sweeten your tea or coffee. If you drink natural juices, water them down 4:1. These simple steps are often the most difficult for people looking for a way to either get healthier, become more athletic, get more energy, and simply lose unwanted weight, size, and body fat. Remember that calories burned should equal calories ingested. Whatever your fitness level, if there is an imbalance between calories burned and calories ingested, your body will immediately begin to change by either thinning out or bulking up. It is up to your choice of nutrition whether that thin or bulk refers to fat or muscle.

Combining discerning yet nourishing nutrition with challenging frequent physical activity will keep your body looking its best. The individuals successfully embracing youthfulness as the attitude that instinctually begins life, while repeating objective assessment to maintain a level of actualization of youth through care of the physical body are the people living the fountain of youth, looking, feeling and acting years and decades younger as they age with the rest of the world. It’s a personal choice for most people, and if you aren’t experiencing it, you may be solely to blame.

In Part I, we established that the mind controls the body, and that you have complete control of your mind. Whether or not you take responsibility for the control of your mind is up to you, and any and all results ultimately will rest upon the application, use, or neglect that you exhibit. Attitude is the arrow launched after the purpose has been decreed.

The next step takes us outside of the mind to bridge the gap between the intention and the enacted result. This is assessment, and the ideal is objectivity. This is a difficult and shaky bridge for many to traverse because it is fraught with manifestations of personal subjectivity that lead to destructive criticism, lack of confidence, pessimism, self-doubt, and ego battles. If you truly understand that one simple sentence you just read, then you can move on triumphantly over this bridge and watch the bountiful rewards of positive assessment grow to their ultimate potential in this step.

Assessment is a basic, dry, no-nonsense procedure that is ongoing and unweighted. If it isn’t that, it is ineffective. If your two first steps, attitude and assessment, or just one of them becomes inefficient or ineffective, you will be one of the majority of people that call themselves old and try to corral others into talking and agreeing about their collective oldness. So keep it simple, keep it unweighted with thoughts and judgements that are sabotage, and do the following with optimistic joy.

Forget your past history about your physical existence in this body. If you have historical precedents about  what you can’t do and will never be, throw them out now. These will weigh you down and are loot bags for the pity party. When you look at yourself in the mirror, take note of how much space your body occupies from the bones that hold you up to the outer layer of skin that you can see. Make realistic notes for yourself about what the next step is from here so that when you get to that next step and see yourself in the mirror you will be poised for making a new note about the next step after that. These incremental steps should be able to be met by you in timeframes no shorter than a week and no longer than 3-4 weeks. Any other steps that fall outside of this range are either unrealistic or impossible to keep track of and will prove ineffectual and a form of self-sabotage.

Your physical form in this world is a highly malleable one. There are more soft parts on our bodies than hard parts, and all the soft parts can change shape and can be under your control. If you’ve never taken control over your soft parts or never considered it as a power you have, now is the time.

Understand that you are what you eat. If you go about this with an eating disorder your body will look disorderly. After assessment you can now empower the direct results by being discerning with the quality of materials you use to build your structure, to create your physical representation of the art within. In the next part of this series, we will discuss being the gatekeeper of the entryway that makes or breaks your physical body.

Have you been led to believe that you’re old or getting old, or you have to be old? It’s not your fault, except that you don’t have to buy into that line of thinking. The biggest danger is that one day you will have set yourself up for a great fall if you suddenly find yourself on the wrong side of young, and I’d like to prevent that. I’ve discovered the fountain of youth, and with each passing day, week, month, and year, I am feeling younger and stronger than I did a little over five years ago. Contained across the posts in my Metal Yoga blog, you will find details and secrets that were integral to waking me out of my aging life and into my youthful life. Before any details are discussed, this three-part series prepares you quickly and concisely for living the rest of your life young.

First of all, the fountain of youth is not exclusively in yoga, so don’t think I’m going to say that as long as you do your practice diligently every morning as the sun rises you will witness a miracle occur. But the concepts discussed here are encompassed in yoga, so some form of yoga practice is better than none, even if it is just to meditate on these perceptions. And if you’re familiar with yoga, staying young begins with attachment, or non-attachment to a notion of youth. Once you define too specifically what youth means to you and then hold on to it, you will be in a constant struggle in opposition to your notions instead of being young.

Perspective is what either drives things or brings them to a halt. Remember that if you live to be 100 years old, you will die young, not old. Keep that as a goal, to die young. If you smoke, don’t exercise, eat bad food, and have a hard time with your physical body, that is one way to die old. Another is to be in good physical condition but not know how to smile, be overly pessimistic, harbor anger and resentment toward others, and not to love yourself. Keep in mind that even our known universe is young, and thousands of generations of human lives later it will still be young. Life is short because we don’t have an opportunity to get old unless we impose it upon ourselves.

With the right perspective, you can spring into life with attitude. Examine your attitude. How do you consider yourself in this regard? Do you think of yourself as young? Do you think of yourself as getting more beautiful and vibrant with the passing of every day, taking in the accumulated experiences of love and beauty in this world?

If that is what you do, then you are on the right track. I don’t know about all of you, but the most common things I hear people actually say out loud is that they are getting old, that they aren’t young anymore, they aren’t getting any younger. They convince themselves that this is true, give up and don’t think and act for themselves in this regard, and then say it out loud to convince others to try to bring everyone down into their self-deprecating view of themselves so they aren’t alone in their sorrow. Some of them even make a conscious deal with themselves, sacrificing their youth for some task or tasks in life, thinking that youth is some kind of bargaining chip or currency to spend in the shopping spree of life.

Do you think of yourself as old? Do you feel disconnected from your youth and the joys you experienced in your youth? Are you uncomfortable around younger people? Do you feel that as time passes you are aging, losing something, losing a part of you that you once had, and don’t know why but are completely satisfied with the answer, “That’s just the way it is, that what happens”? How old is old? Anything over 29? Anything over 40? Does old start at 50? You see, my point is that there is no real answer, it is up to you, and that means it doesn’t matter unless you make it matter.

I can’t stress enough the importance of attitude because this is enough to bring the whole house down if you are of the second view of yourself in relation to the world. Once you start to think in terms of imaginary concepts that work against you without any possibility to overcome them, you are then the creator of a category of obstacles and difficult situations for yourself. It’s up to you then how large this category becomes and how powerless you are against it. Since it’s all up to you, how big will you allow it to get and for how long before you really can’t do a thing about it? Because this is quite easily the root of most inability to stay young and vibrant to contribute to the world and allow yourself to experience life without self-sabotage, I’ll stop here and next time we’ll talk about all of the ways to enact youth and physically make the body look and feel younger with the right attitude intact.