If you have seen some of those crazy yoga poses or even tried them yourself, then you know that some yoga takes strength, but did you know yoga slows aging as it clears the mind and stretches your limits? Yoga is the practice of mindfulness, of holding poses, of awareness of breath and, has long been talked about for its many benefits to our overall health and well being.
We know that resistance exercise using only body weight is beneficial in building strength and building strength helps to slow age-related muscles loss (sarcopenia) as we head into our 50s, 60s. We are also now learning that the meditative part of yoga and focusing on your breath can also slow aging at the cellular level by reducing tension, anxiety and stress. These two core principles of yoga – strength and relaxation – are what researchers are finding slows aging and, in some cases, can reverse the process when it comes to muscle loss.
The poses in yoga keep you limber as they stretch, twist and challenge you to move in ways you might otherwise never try. It keeps your joints and muscles lose as they work, while also calming your breath, which improves your circulation and slows your heart rate. The regular practice of yoga slows aging as it builds strength and eases your mind, improves your posture and increases your balance.
How Yoga Slows Aging as it Builds Strength
Improves Balance & Posture
The balance required for poses such as warrior, tree pose or triangle uses both your body strength to hold the pose and your mind to focus on the balancing. Many yoga poses require ‘lengthening’ and posing deeper – this focus of standing taller and proper body alignment keeps your spine limber and your mind on your posture. Both balance and posture are important to improve and maintain strength and agility and help you feel younger as you get older.
As we age we being to lose muscle, it is a natural part of aging that affects everyone and begins in our 30s and 40s. Aside from ensuring we are getting enough high quality protein in our daily diet, using our muscles to increase and maintain our strength is the only way to slow this part of aging. Using body weight as resistance is part of many yoga poses such as downward dog, plank, chaturanga and chair pose. They challenge shoulders, biceps, triceps and major leg and glute muscles which improves strength as well as bone density. With regular yoga classes, you will see an improved definition and strength which will slow down and even reverse this age-realted muscles loss as you get older.
Flexibility and Strength in Joints
Aches and stiffness seem to be an accepted part of aging, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Regular yoga practice stretches muscles and joints in all areas of your body and increases strength and flexibility. Range of motion is improved and mobility is increased. “Use it or lose it,” as the saying goes and yoga is an excellent way to continue to use it and prevent losing it!
Calms the Mind
Yoga has a meditative component to it. Some styles of yoga have more meditation than others, but all allow time for quiet, to connect the mind and the body, to focus on breathing. This mindfulness part of yoga has proven to relieve anxiety, tension and stress, to slow the heartbeat, hone in on intentions and calm the mind. Relieving stress can be done with intense exercise or regular more meditative yoga. Both will result in many health benefits and slowing the aging process as they build strength is part of it.
Supports Respiratory Health, Circulation and Digestion
Breathing is an important part of yoga practice. Being aware of your breath, increasing your lung capacity and proper breathing improves digestion and reduces blood pressure. Learning to take full breaths, to breathe with the movement and doing poses that twist and bend your core all work to support your respiratory system, give the digestive organs a massage and stimulate circulation.
Consult with your health care practitioner before starting any new yoga practice and talk to your yoga teacher before starting a new class. There are different styles of yoga so be sure to try more than one to find the right fit for you.
Hatha yoga offers slow moving classes that hold poses while Vinyasa yoga is more dynamic as you flow from one pose to the next. Ashtanga yoga is built on 6 key poses that will challenge you while Yin yoga is more meditative. There is also power yoga classes that work in weights and cardio for strength as well as hot yoga that gets your sweat on for a more intense practice. Restorative yoga holds poses for longer to experience a deeper relaxation or meditation or aerial yoga that introduces silks and an element of playful fun as you pose hanging upside down.
Explore everything yoga has to offer and enjoy building strength as you slow the aging process and Live Your Life to its fullest.
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