What if we could slow down, prevent or (GASP!) reverse the aging process? And better yet, for free? Most of us have a fear getting older. And even though it is inevitable and happening right this minute, we often think of aging as some awful process that is going to happen in the very distant future. Nobody wants to experience their body drying out, getting wrinkly and losing energy which are all common perceptions of aging. We buy products and pills and a multitude of creams to help deceive ourselves and others that time has got a grip on our youth. A lot of our focus (and lets be honest, our money too) is on preventing looking and feeling ‘old’. But what if there was an easier way? What if we started making changes now that our future (80 year old self!) would thanks us for. This is where Yoga comes in.
Breathing in and out through our nose makes us use our lungs to their maximum capacity. When we are breathing this way, our heart rate slows and we tap into the parasympathetic nervous system which helps calm, rejuvenate and regenerate. Oxygenating the body with every breath helps reduce inflammation and increase vitality.
TIP To prevent a shallow breath, keep the mouth closed and only breathe through the nose.
There is a well known quote by Joseph Pilates “You are only as young as your spine is flexible”. Years of poor posture while sitting, driving and standing can attribute to that hunched over look that is often seen in the elderly. A regular yoga practice will twist, flex and extend the spine. We also need to ensure that we don’t spend all our time closed in and therefore closed off from others.
TIP: Avoid the dreaded ‘text neck’ by sitting up tall, bringing your head over your pelvis, lifting your chest and opening your heart.
An inversion is any pose where you heart is higher than your head. In yoga they are often part of the practice. There can be advanced inversions such as handstand or forearm stand or milder ones such as downward facing dog or legs up the wall pose with our hips elevated. Any inversion or attempt at one will really get the blood circulating in the body. There is also something about being upsidedown that reminds us of our childhood days practicing cartwheels and tumbles.
TIP: Make more time for play and movement.
Unlike a lot of other activities, Yoga doesn’t over tax the body. After a practice we generally feel refreshed and relaxed. Over time, intense forms of exercise are not sustainable. Athletes will retire from professional sports or aches and pains may creep in. We will never have to retire from yoga as there are so many different postures to practice no matter the age or condition of the body.
TIP Start to incorporate yoga into your every day life as a cross training activity if you are involved in sport or other forms of exercise
We all know that stress is a leading cause of disease in both the body and mind. A dedicated regular meditation practice will help quieten and calm the mind, reducing anxiety and tension. When we move through our daily activities from a place of relaxation and steady mind, we can move with ease and elegance.
TIP Spend time every day focusing on and exploring your breath, the rise and fall of your belly, the tip of your nose, the sensation on the nostrils.
A lifelong dedicated yoga practice will help you become more and more comfortable in your own skin. No matter your age or appearance, your commitment to Yoga and ultimately your spiritual practice is priority. Learn to let go of judgement about yourself and others as to what ‘aging’ actually it. Embrace the process, trusting that with time brings wisdom.
TIP Love and accept yourself exactly as you are right now.
Moving your body through yoga on a daily basis will maintain a healthy range of motion and strengthen your joints and muscles. In addition, you will feel and quite possibly even look more youthful 😉