Having a Midlife Crisis? Try Yoga
I have to tell you I know exactly what midlife crisis is all about – from the ‘man’ point of view, anyways… The jury is still out on the true reasons this occurs and is separated into two camps: A hormonal disorder that occurs naturally or unnaturally resulting in reduced testosterone levels which may be treated on a body level (testosterone replacement therapy); or a ‘psychological backlash’ caused by the vision of where a man thought he would be as opposed to where he actually finds himself in his existence. Personally, I blame our societal upbringing and the false image we worship of what a ‘real man’ should be…No reason matters much, in my opinion. What matters is what a midlife crisis means and how it can be mitigated and even focused to bring about a positive change in the years going forward.
Modern society is enamored with symptoms and the recognition of symptoms to the point where we typically attack the signs of the problem and not the problem itself. Take a cold, in example: We get a cough – so we treat that…then we get a sore throat, and we treat that too. Chest congestion? Another medicine will fix that as well…and all the time we ignore the reality that if we had a strong immune system and good health to start with, the problem of a cold would likely not exist.
In the same way, a midlife crisis is not so much a core problem, but a symptom of a deeper issue. There are ‘symptoms of the symptom’ however, which can easily determine if either consciously or unconsciously you are undergoing a midlife crisis:
- Do everyday life and its myriad tasks overwhelm you?
- Do you question your life and its purpose as relates to you?
- Do you feel depressed, bored and resigned to your ‘fate?’
- Do you find yourself worrying about death?
- Are you prone to anger and irritability without concrete reasons?
- Do you feel a lack of sexual energy or a drop in attraction to women in your age group?
- Do you find yourself overeating, drinking, or engaging in other destructive behavior?
- Has the mirror ceased to be your friend? (Changes in skin, body composition, etc…)
- Have you recently had an affair with a much younger woman, or perhaps bought a sports car or other expensive societal sign of vigor and youth?
If you can honestly answer “yes” to even one or two of these symptoms, you may be beginning or already in a midlife crisis. Fear not, for there is hope and even opportunity to ‘begin again’ for the second half of your existence!
Survive and Thrive
For the majority of men (myself included), our midlife crisis typically involves the drop in sex drive, especially for women our own age (a purely self-image protection mechanism); physical appearance, our career position, or our financial state. As with most of our lunatic behavior in this modern world, we as men are unlikely to blame anything within ourselves, and instead look for ways to ‘fix’ things in our physical environment. Again, the quintessential sports car…but it doesn’t work. The only way to truly combat the external symptoms that midlife crisis manifest is to deal with the man, not the environment.
- Find a new outlet for your energy by taking up a hobby, a short course in a field you have shown interest in, or anything else that allows you to feel challenged and find focus. You will know you have hit upon the right hobby when you find yourself losing all track of time and space when you are doing your hobby…
- Exercise your body doing something you enjoy that doesn’t feel like work. The advantages of hard physical activity are well known: Decreased stress levels, healthier immune system, less structural degeneration, and a feeling of energy and euphoria are all available. If you choose to do so in a group setting, you will be opening the door to new relationships and meeting new friends who can offer support and motivation.
- Pay attention to your eating habits and insure you are eating as healthy as possible. Consider a good quality vitamin supplement if your diet is lacking and you are unable to change it sufficiently.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to loved ones and family as to what you are experiencing. As a man, we have been trained by our society that we should never show weakness or a lack of so-called “manly traits.” Communication in itself brings a reduction in the symptoms of midlife crisis, as you are able to verbally release your thoughts and feelings instead of holding them deep inside.
- If you are married or living with someone and feel yourself becoming bored with your partner, understand that it is not them who have changed suddenly, but your own viewpoint. Accepting responsibility for where you are at in your life without blaming anything outside of yourself will allow you to be more loving and caring while still achieving your own needs in your midlife crisis.
For thousands of years, the benefits of Yoga and its potential to increase the libido have been well known and practiced in the East. The meditative components of Yoga reduce stress, harmonize the holistic nature of ourselves, and help to maintain body weight and joint/tendon flexibility. As a tool to deal with midlife crisis, Yoga is able to mitigate nearly all the ‘symptoms of the symptom’ that midlife crisis is. As a further benefit, stretching on a regular basis can actually help to improve the overall sexual experience – a boon for those whose loss of libido represents a loss of a large part of who they believe themselves to be.
As always, I start trying to find enough words to write, and end with having to carve and shave hundreds of words off in order to keep articles from turning into endless short stories (a bad habit of mine…be thankful you only have to read, not sit and listen to me babble for hours!) To this end, I am going to list a number of beneficial Man-Yoga poses that will increase energy, fitness, libido, and over time raise your spirits to boot!
- Cobra Pose (balances and heals the Chakra relating to our sex drive (Sacral)).
- Forward bend
- Wheel Pose (modified bridge pose posture)
- Butterfly Pose (Kundalini)
- Plough Pose (a superior pose for the whole body and sexual activity)
- Chair Pose
- Frog Pose (Kundalini)
- Corpse Pose
What midlife crisis?
As I was doing some research for this article a few weeks back, I was surprised to find out how much of the available body of work on male midlife crisis involves answers to sexual dysfunction and libido. I have to admit, I’m a little confused at the stereotypical man-view regarding sex and loss of desire.
Perhaps the real way to deal with midlife crisis in men is to instead visit the problem itself: A society that has created the conditions in which no man could ever live up to the image expected indefinitely. Personally, a great deal of my own midlife crisis was handled through Yoga and “re-writing” my agreement on what being a man really meant. The meditative qualities of Yoga assisted in forming this new agreement, based on things I feel have more value than what our society holds.
By all means – use these helpful and healthy tips to help break the midlife crisis pattern, but take the time to re-write your own agreement as to what being a man means. Consider such things as standing up for those who cannot, protecting those who cannot protect themselves, living with integrity, and most of all; A real man can do no harm, as he realizes that in the act of harming another or his environment, he has ultimately harmed himself.
Namaste, my friends…