“Yoga is the key to the fountain of youth”. Hearing this during my teacher training, I couldn’t help but feel a bit skeptical. How could yoga make such grand claims on living young?
At 51, I’m sold. I have witnessed and experienced that Yoga is available to everyone regardless of age, experience or flexibility level. I definitely believe it holds the secret to living young.
Hatha yoga, or mindful movement in coordination with the breath, is about strength, flexibility and balance. For us folks over 50, I would also add that it is about good posture and balance. All of these are diminished over time as we age. The nice thing about yoga is that you can start from wherever you are, regardless of age, and progress from there. It’s never too late.
As we age, we lose both muscle and bone mass.
Studies show however that the rate at which muscle mass is lost is much lower for those who exercise regularly and that strength can be gained even with a loss of muscle mass. Putting stress on bones increases the absorption of calcium, keeping them strong and healthy.
Various yoga postures use the body’s weight to strengthen the core muscles of the torso as well as those in the arms and legs while at the same time putting stress on the skeletal system. Another added benefit is that moving from posture to posture enhances blood flow to the joints keeping them healthy and lubricated, enabling us to maintain full range of motion. It is true however that the sooner a person adopts a regular fitness program the greater the benefits will be as he or she ages.
As we age, injuries from falling increases.
We loose our balance which contributes to the falls. Every yoga practice usually involves at least two or three balancing postures. These postures can be practiced with or without the aid of a prop (i.e. handy wall). Here again, the ability to sense and adjust the position of the body in relation to the earth can be improved upon with practice.
And how about all those little, or not so little, aches and pains that come with aging?
All too often we resort to medication to ease the misery when a regular yoga practice might do the trick. Ailments such as sciatica and plantar fasciitis (a tightening of the Achilles tendon) can be greatly alleviated and in some cases chronic joint or back pain significantly reduced by carefully stretching and strengthening the muscles which support the affected area of the body. Gently exercising arthritic joints, although uncomfortable at times, can stabilize the joint and possibly even slow the progression of the disease. Chest opening postures help maintain flexibility in the spine to give us a more erect posture. Not only are we in less pain, but we look younger and feel better as well.
I have practiced Bikram Yoga for 14 years. It is my secret for living young. At 51, I am more toned and flexible, and have greater balance than I did in my 20’s. I have found with a regular yoga practice I sleep better and don’t wake up with all of the aches and pains. So when someone asks my age, I don’t mind disclosing it all.
I know that I am not alone when I make these kinds of statements. I hear from students all the time how yoga has healed their bodies and minds. Have you experienced the healing power of yoga? Do you believe it is the key to living young? Share with us your experience as others may want to hear your experience to decide if is true!
Come practice with us and experience the benefits for yourself. I guarantee you won’t regret it.