Abodes of Life (Āśrama)

Ageing with human dignity is a major topic of Yoga study in the lineage of TKV Desikachar.

The table below illustrates the correspondence between the human phases of life and the antiquated, and arguably controversial, Hindu system of āśrama.

Abode (Āśrama) Phase of Life Primary Concern Primary Tool
Initiate
(vidyārtha)
Infant Growth
(sṛṣṭi)
Āsana
Celibate
(brahmačārī)
Youth Growth
(sṛṣṭi)
Āsana
Householder
(gṛhastha)
Prime of Life Energy
(śakti)
Prāṇāyāma
Hermit
(vānaprastha or sādhu)
Middle Age Protection
(rakṣaṇa)
Prāṇāyāma
Renunciate
(saṃnyāsī)
Twilight Spiritual
(ādhyātmika)
Dhyāna
Dawn Phase of Life Noon Phase of Life Dusk Phase of Life Twilight Phase of Life

The use of abode (āśrama) correspondence implies prioritisation of value in life, in terms of the individual’s constitution (deha), place (deśa), time (kāla), avocation (vṛtti), interest (mārga) and energy (śakti).

The relevance (or value) of your Yoga practice at each stage of life

Youth (20s):

  • Playful, energetic and fast moving
  • Crave stimulation and overseas travel
  • Develop a practice that involves stories and role-playing

Prime of Life (30s):

  • Many career goals
  • Crave to maintain a high level of energy and activity
  • Develop a practice that corrects habitual tendencies

Middle Age (40s & 50s):

  • Slower metabolism, stiffer joints, longer recovery time after injury
  • Develop an introspective practice (e.g. the study of philosophy)
  • Develop a practice that involves joint-freeing exercises

Old Age (60s & beyond):

  • Stiffness, higher blood pressure, insomnia, instability
  • Crave to maintain range of motion and agility
  • Develop a healthy interest in hobbies
  • Develop a gentle, restorative and relaxing practice
Yoga
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