Are you a book lover who enjoys reading about good ideas for living a long and healthy life? There are so many of us out here, tucked in with our books and a cup of tea or a glass of wine, all by ourselves.
What if there was a place to talk with like-minded folks who are also committed to thriving as we grow older?
I started the Aging Well Book Club to get us all together to share what we’re learning about being a “dynamic ager” – someone who acknowledges the inevitability of aging and is willing to be fully engaged in the process without accepting the stereotypes and assumptions of society about who we are. It’s not about rolling back the clock or defying the aging process. It’s about being PRO-aging and ANTI-ageism.
As a movement educator and coach, I’ve learned that motivation to stay active while aging comes in many forms. Some folks are avid exercisers who are just looking for a method that matches their needs and goals for a sustainable way to keep moving.
Others are still struggling with questions about where to begin and what would be best to do. It’s not that we don’t already understand the need for physical health, including joint mobility, pelvic health and better breathing, digestion and circulation!
What I discovered is that both clients and professional colleagues are eager to talk about what they’re learning and what it means for their lives. The “community” aspect of an exercise class or a book club is where deeper understanding, and learning, can arise. In all my programs, questions (and answers) are welcome and become part of the community-building process for all of us.
I spent decades as a health journalist, and I’m bringing all those skills into this new Book Club. I really enjoy creating the Reader’s Guide for each Book Club selection. The Guide contains questions, discussion prompts and suggestions for experiential learning.
Participants tell me that one of the most satisfying parts of the time we spend together is talking things through in both the large group and more intimate, small groups during our monthly gatherings.
The book selections for the Aging Well Book Club come from member suggestions. We’re focused on books that open our eyes to the possibilities of feeling better in our bodies and moving better through life. Accessible books that are based in accurate and actionable science by knowledgeable authors.
Our first selection last winter was Katy Bowman’s Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement. This book lays the foundation for the coaching programs that I offer through Your Movement Project, so it was a natural way to begin.
Nearly 30 people joined the Book Club to make our way through Move Your DNA. It’s a fairly thick and science-y book that includes a complete movement program and loads of additional resources. We were fortunate to be able to bring Katy on for a bonus Q&A session. That was really special!
Books on our “wish list” range widely; from the deep science of basic functions, such as Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker to somatic approaches to issues that are commonly labeled as dysfunctions of aging such as Pelvic Liberation: Using Yoga, Self-Inquiry and Whole Body Breathing by Leslie Howard. (No, “sneeze pee” is not a natural consequence of growing older. And yes, you can improve pelvic health through movement!)
We plan not to shy away from books that challenge our assumptions about our worth and meaning in society. One that I’d love to explore with a group of curious movers is The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor. (Click the link and sign up for a free, 30-day program of Daily Affirmations that will give you a taste of what’s in the book.)
We’re always on the lookout for our next great read.
It was a no-brainer to focus on the most basic function of our existence – breathing. “No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly,” writes author and journalist James Nestor. “There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat 25,000 times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences.”
In Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, Nestor travels the world exploring the science and culture of breathing. He participates in several experiments to more deeply experience what he’s learning. The book contains an Appendix of Breathing Methods that appear throughout the book.
The author’s website is a repository for expert Q&A and breathing instruction. (Explore items in the drop-down menu under “Breath.”) You really can learn to breathe better instantly! To support, sustain and deepen that learning, we’re going to read and learn together over a two-month Book Club in June and July.
One of my favorite parts of gathering readers together to discuss books we’re reading is to help us stop skimming just the headlines when it comes to health information. There’s SO MUCH of it flowing through our feeds, coming at us insisting we do this, do that. How do we know what is worth paying attention to? How do we know whether the information is actually true? There are plenty of scams out there. And lots of disinformation and scare tactics, too.
I started my own Book Club to be a place where we can sort it all out, in the company of others who want to age well, as we do.
Start Breathing Better Right Now
As a Qigong instructor, I believe in and constantly witness the healing power of breath. As a Restorative Exercise Specialist, I often remind movers to find ways to keep breathing as they stretch and strengthen. What all the experts are telling us is that breathing well is not only fundamental for whole body health, but also to mindfully reduce stress and improve physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
Each breath is free and right there when we need it, once we learn the skills and then remember what we’ve learned. I’ve written about How to Breathe (Easier) as We Age for Sixty and Me.
If the topic of breathing better is already at the top of your list, you can start by discovering the Restorative Exercise perspective in Katy Bowman’s article explaining How To Move Your Breathing Parts Better.
And if you’d like to learn more about the Aging Well Book Club, here’s your invitation to join. The Summer session begins June 15th.
When has a good discussion helped you learn something new? How has the power of community supported you in aging well? Is better breathing a skill you are ready to practice?