Ode to my Grandmother: Investing in An Evolutionary Strategy for Your Aging

Ode to my Grandmother: Investing in An Evolutionary Strategy for Your Aging

nani pictureDedicated to my Grandma, Nani. Teresa de la Forest Foster Nolde 1915- March 11, 2013 (Obituary at bottom).

My grandma, Nani, died last week in her late 90's. She was born in France, and loved her lamb and wine as per her heritage. She was a no b.s. woman, an excellent golfer and a spark of a rebel in her own right.

I've been wondering what choices she may have differently 20-30 years ago if she knew what aging is really like. She wasn't in a peer group that refined their habits as they aged. She didn't give up the stuff that lead to her suffering, and neither did her peers, though she outlived them all.There is a humility to our bodies aging that bewilders me. How can I make the best of this precious vehicle – this holy abode – for up to 60 more years?

The bigger issues and opportunities with aging comes down to how we invest. How do you invest your awareness, which is your time. How do you invest your dollars in that which enables you to take up better ways of being in a body? How do you invest in being in conscious communities to support your growth?

ship sinking

Know how your ship goes down.

I've taken to using this expression to describe the unique nature of your “vikruti”. Vikruti means what goes wrong. You and I probably don't suffer from the same symptoms. When we both get tired and run down, we'll suffer uniquely. As we get older and grey-er, we'll complain of different problems. We all have different patterns of suffering. 

I've been listening to Dr. Claudia Welch describe your “kavaigunya”. She talks about how your ship will go down in terms of vikruti, karma, and everything bad that's left a mark on you so far.  If you get your kavaiguna – you get what choices will bring you down… and which can potentially be a game-changer for the way you will age.

What does this have to do with an Evolutionary Strategy for Aging?

If you know how your ship goes down – step by step, in intimate details, perhaps you can avert the catastrophe. As we age the catastrophes of the body and mind get bigger. Think of your ancestors. What sinks their ships? Is is Alzheimers? Cancer? Bone loss? Do your peeps keep their teeth? What does life after menopause look like? With an evolutionary strategy for aging we need to deeply understand what is happening energetically, play-by-play in our personal health history. You'll be able to change the way you age.

Most yoga students and teachers I know don't know that they can learn Ayurvedic diagnostics as it applies to their personal wellness trajectory. What you don't know might lead to years of needless discomfort, suffering, and you might lose your house (see below)… before what brings your ship down gets around to killing you.

Change the way you age

As a culture, we should direct our attention to the Art of Longevity. According to Ayurveda, the art of longevity has everything to do with the micro-decisions in your day to day life. You have to put your time in and make the changes that make the difference between evolving and degenerating. It's the same kind of work you are doing on the mat in your yoga practice.When we commit to making better decisions based on the day-to-day feedback our bodies give us, we experience the benefit immediately.

The benefits are cumulative and soon your 80's look totally different than they would have had you ignored the messages and kept up with the current cultural pattern. The benefits are also cumulative in the people you affect. We are all always influencing each other. You don't live in a bubble. As you consistently make more evolved decisions, they show up in your kids. And you feel better as you get older – which changes the belief system of your children or the next generation in terms of what aging looks like. That is the feedback I consistently receive from my over-50 crowd of yoga students and teachers in the Living Ayurveda Course.

When you change the way you age for the better – when you feel better as you get older – the reality affects your bank account. Basically, most of us are on a trajectory of spending a ton of dough on out-of-po66566-284x423-Elderly_lady_in_paincket health care expenses as time marches on.

Save a bundle + change your retirement

For this part, I borrowed reporting from AHRG

  • Five percent of the population accounts for almost half (49 percent) of total health care expenses.
  •  The average health care expense in 2002 was $11,089 per year for elderly people but only $3,352 per year for working-age people (ages 19-64).5
  • A principal reason why health care spending is spread out more evenly among the elderly is that a much higher proportion of the elderly than the non-elderly have expensive chronic conditions. 
  • People With High Health Care Expenses Also Have High Out-of-Pocket Expenses Relative to Income
  • On average, people with Medicare coverage paid $38,688 for medical care in the last five years of life.There was enormous variation, with 25 percent of participants spending an average $101,791 out-of-pocket for medical services and 25 percent spending an average $5,163 during this period.
  • One-quarter of older adults incurred out-of-pocket medical expenses that exceeded the total value of their assets during this five-year period. Forty-three percent of older adults incurred expenses that exceeded their assets, excluding the value of their homes.

This is nuts. If you skimmed over the stats … read them. Almost no one I know wants to think of what their body will feel like in 10 years, let alone when you become the elderly. Your statistical odds of spending a huge bundle on your medical expenses are a sure bet. What can you do to avoid the chronic conditions that bring us down? You can learn how to fine tune yourself, your daily habits and seasonal routines for longevity. This is the fundamental teaching of Ayurveda.

Change how you “Save for Retirement”

older yogis

Saving for retirement means investing in your health and wellness. This was always the point Ayurveda has been trying to make – but now the stakes are higher. Due to our pollution soils, stress and largely hybridized diets our systems are challenged. Yet there is so much more to learn. You need to reprogram your mind to invest, not just your dollar but your awareness and your commitment, to your personal and family wellness.

I've been conditioned to think of “saving for retirement” as putting some dough each month into mutual funds after I max out my Roth IRA. But what if you're taking the money back out in 5-40 years to cover your out-of-pocket health care expenses? What if those bills are so high you lose your house to cover them?

It's obvious to me… and hopefully to you as well, that planning for retirement means not just having money in the bank, but evolving the cellular intelligence of your body-mind so that you don't inadvertently suffer from the chronic diseases that currently puts our elders not only in the pain cave, but also in the poor house.

Say you're a yoga student. You know that your daily choices make a huge impact on your yoga practice. Good habits make yoga easy. Bad habits make yoga hard. Your yoga practice is a measuring stick for all things good and bad for you. Getting in a peer group, like in my Living Ayurveda course, of yoga students and teachers supporting each other to uplevel their good choices seasonally and through different stages of life is a solid investment that will pay dividends as long as you and your offspring have bodies.

Ayurveda for Smart Life-Planning

ayurveda and aging

When you study Ayurveda, you start to look at YOUR life in epochs. I've taken to looking at my life in terms of decades. I want to know what I need to do now in my day-to-day choices that will continue to pay off in 5-30 years. Sounds a lot like mutual funds. But even low-risk mutual funds are much higher risk than your own wellness evolution. If you really study Ayurveda and integrate the practice for the post-modern decades ahead you get a priceless return on your investment. And the super groovy part of it is that you get the good from those body-mind upgrades today …and tomorrow.

When you study Ayurveda you get your vikruti (how you go out of balance). You get your kavaigunya (how your ship goes down related to your health history + deep karma), you get your prakruti (personal constitution) at a level of depth. But more than that, you can get yourself on an evolutionary wellness trajectory. And yes, you've got to pay to play. You've got to put in your time. You ‘ve got to find a teacher that is going to inspire change, you've got to get in on a community that shares your evolving worldview and beliefs.

Built to last 100 years

Yogis + Vaidyas (Ayurvedic gurus) have a different take on aging. They believe our parts can last about 100 years. Sure, stuff will happen, and we will deteriorate… but much of the suffering is optional. The entire science of Ayurveda is based on maximizing wellness longevity and spiritual evolution. There is no pill and no bill. There is simply syncing up with someone who know the “secrets” and is living into their truth. There are the seasonal refinements, there are the practices, the upleveling of self-care, the changing what you crave so that what you crave is what helps the body.


The Living Ayurveda yoga teacher + student posse from Colorado. Feeling younger as time passes.

Change your worldview. Change the way you invest in your future. You only have one body. Are you treating it to last? Or are you slowly taking your own ship down?

Accelerate the wellness of your students + children

When yoga teachers teachers study Ayurveda and live into the practices they accelerate the wellness path of their students. I don't say this off the cuff. It's the feedback I get the most from the yoga teacher crowd in Living Ayurveda. What I hear the most from the mothers with children at home is that their families are shifting. Their kids are making better choices. The household habits are evolving along a wellness trajectory. This feedback is music to my ears.


We've been programmed to think that we can't avoid genetic diseases. We can't change the way we age. Saving for retirement means Roth IRA's and 401K's. We're programmed to think that you can't change people. You can't change your partner, your children, your students, you're friends. This is a dungheap of outdated beliefs. We influence each other with every choice we make… with every investment we make or don't make. You can't help but influence everyone in your live. Make your choices not just for yourself, but to evolve our families, communities and culture.


Teresa Foster Nolde  1915-2013  nani picture

passed away at age 97 in Venice, Florida. She was born on March 29, 2015 iin Melun, France. Her parents were Anne and Count

Francois delaForest. Teresa's family moved to St. Paul in 1920 where she attended the Visitation Convent School. She is predeceased by her husband, Gilbert Foster. Gil and Teresa have four daughters, all of whom survive her. They are Anne Forest of St. Paul, Gail Monchik of Old Greenwich, CT, Kathleen Stillman of Driggs, ID and Suzanne Rothschild of Englewood, FL who gave her mother devoted care. Teresa is also survived by 10 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. She is also predeceased by her second husband, Glen Nolde with whom she resided in Englewood, FL. She was a spirited and adventurous woman. She loved to have fun. She loved to travel. Bridge was one of her favorite pastimes. As she aged her one complaint was that she could no longer play golf. Mostly she loved being with her family and traveled many miles visiting her children and their families, all living great distances from her. In her quiet moments she produced beautiful knitted works and lovely needlepoint. She was treasured by her many nieces and nephews who called her Aunt Ta. Because of her spark and zest for life, it seems like a happy and bright light has gone out. Teresa, Ta, Nani, Grandma, Mom, you are so missed.

Invest in your future body.

Learn your inner body technology from the inside out. I'm offering a huge discount for those who want to join my Living Ayurveda Course that starts next September. You'll get instant access into the Living Ayurveda Prep School. Plus, you'll get the added bonus of a 3 day Access Pass to my Future of Ayurveda Summer Solstice Event near Jackson Hole, WY.

Living Ayurveda… an evolutionary strategy for aging… Take better care of:

  • yourself
  • your family
  • your yoga studentsOr take you yoga career to the next level.

What is new in Living Ayurveda Course:



Cate Stillman
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Welcome to Yogahealer.com. We’re all about vibrant health evolution, both personal + planetary. Let’s step deeper into dharma and an awake life together. Start with your Yoga Lifestyle Upgrade Kit + Upgrade your body, your dharma + your life.

  • Martha Roth
    Posted at 23:16h, 27 March

    So sorry for your loss Cate. My mom just passed away at 99 years old. Just like your Nani she played bridge, and never really watched her eating etc. Unlike Nani she was a couch potato. Think it's the bridge?

  • Cate Stillman
    Posted at 03:32h, 28 March

    Thanks, Martha. Chuckle on the bridge! The baby boomers have such an opportunity to become the leaders and changemakers in evolving what the elder years become.

  • Sarah Hutchinson
    Posted at 03:41h, 03 April

    Wow, evolutionary tribute Cate, she lives on in all of us!

  • Sandi
    Posted at 03:31h, 28 April

    As my wife and I are of the ‘ageing’ class it was quite inspirational to read your post. It is a struggle to keep up real self care especially when the energy begins to wain. But it is also a great challenge and an interesting path.

  • Cate Stillman
    Posted at 18:20h, 29 April

    Thanks for sharing, Sandy.

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