The Anti-Aging Benefits of Yoga

19 April 2013

Anyone who has been practicing yoga for a time will agree; there’s a strong connection between your body and your mind. So, whenever your mind is under stress, your body reflects it in numerous ways; poor posture, low back pain and tense muscles, are just a few examples. It should then be no surprise, that people who are under a undue amounts of stress seem to age faster than those who have learned to manage it properly. Stress, along with gravity, of course, is what makes us age.

There are some basic attributes that characterize someone who’s vibrant and healthy; someone who appears to:

  • ■ Supple, radiant skin.
  • ■ Strong, lustrous, shiny healthy hair.
  • ■ Well defined muscles.
  • ■ Good posture and bone structure.
  • ■ Boundless energy.
  • ■ A light but firm and confident gait.
  • ■ A balanced attitude toward self, life and others
  • ■ A calm and peaceful demeanor

Believe it or not, you too can feel this way, and it has nothing to do with how old you are. Although not exactly magic or Ponce de Leon’s famed fountain of youth, yoga is a great age-defying stress reducer. If you practice yoga on a regular basis, you just may start to notice some awesome and welcome benefits. To begin your own personal anti-aging campaign, try practicing the following a few times per week:

*Keep Your Spine Flexible

Think of your spine like the foundational frame of a house that holds everything together. If that frame becomes dysfunctional, all sorts of problems will begin to manifest themselves.  A healthy spine assures your body maintains its structure, supports your head, your arms and legs, and provides a shock absorption system for all of your activities. In addition, it houses your central nervous system (spinal cord), the superhighway that connects your brain to the rest of your body. Considering all of the work it does, it’s no wonder your spine often gets tired on a daily basis. Even those who seem to have the best posture may find themselves slouching a bit at the end of a particularly stressful day. Become familiar with basic spinal anatomy, structure and function and that will help empower you to take control of your health. Give your spine some loving attention with asanas (yoga poses) that elongate, strengthen and stretch your spine and counteract any bad postural habits too. Alternating cat and cow pose is a great start. A spine that’s flexible will promote good balance and strength which will affect your overall health in a positive way, putting that youthful bounce back in your step.

*Relax and Release Your Muscle Tension

Common bodily aches and pains are often the result of tight or stressed muscles. Ranging from headaches to back problems and incorrect alignment, tight muscles can slowly leave you slouched or hunched over and limit your ability to perform activities that you love or need to do. Given enough time, range of motion will diminish and many of the daily activities you once performed with ease can become quite challenging. The three poses of Yoga for complete relaxation are Dradhasana (firm pose), Shavasana (corpse pose) and Adhvasana (relaxation pose).

Self-massage is another method you can use to improve circulation and warm up your muscles, this may encouraging them to release toxins that that may be at the root of your aches and pains. A general rule of thumb is to use light circular motion over joints and areas of pain and sweep with long strokes over areas such as the front of the thigh and arms always massaging towards the heart. Self-massage is especially useful to help you relax during the day, either at work or at home; even if you can only afford to spend a couple of minutes massaging your neck and shoulders. Your morning shower is a great time for self-massage because your skin and senses come alive in the steam of the warm water and self-massage relaxes your muscles, getting you ready to tackle the stresses of the day ahead.

*Breathe in Life’s Energy (Prana)

Breathing correctly oxygenates your body through your bloodstream, nourishing every single cell in your body. Breathing also functions as a purifier to help you cleanse your body of toxins acquired throughout the day. The breath (as prana) is life. Pranayama is both the extension and the control of breath, and indeed the most subtle energy of the body. Although there are many different schools and techniques for learning pranayama, the most basic approach is simple awareness of the breath. You will find that lying or sitting in a comfortable position and just watching your breath for a set period of time will reap powerful benefits. You’ll become more focused and relaxed. You can simply notice your breath dispassionately and without judgment or you can focus your breath on a particular area of your body and with each inhale you send the breath to that spot, extending love and compassion to that area that’s been “aching” for attention. With each exhale, you release, allowing the tension and pain to leave your body with each breath. Pranayama is a gift you give to yourself and it too keeps on giving.

*Meditate, Meditate And Meditate!

The Anti-Aging Benefits of YogaIf you’re looking for inner calm and a peaceful, more positive outlook on life, take a minute (or two – or ten) to bring your body, mind and senses into balance. Once you achieve this balance through meditation, your nervous system will find its sense of equilibrium and calm down, you’ll be less anxious and more open to gaining some powerful insights into your true nature (which is ageless). There are plenty of ways to meditate, so don’t be afraid to try, just find what works best for you and stick with it for a while. The process itself will show you the way. If you’re a beginner, just focus on your breath with no critique or judgment, and notice how it flows in and out of your lungs. If your mind begins to wander away from your breath, gently bring it back, remembering that the breath is the beginning and end of all life.

Conclusion: Yoga is rapidly catching on as one of the most efficient and effective forms of exercise for older people. Even when it’s compared to other Eastern forms of exercise, yoga is still regarded as the best by many who have practiced a variety of disciplines. Since antiquity many yogis have lived well into their nineties with full retention of all their functions and faculties and have even managed to astound the world over with their physical prowess, even at such an advanced age.

The Anti-Aging Benefits of Yoga

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