• Karen

Incredible Anti-Aging Benefits of Yoga

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate every passing year: our self-confidence, body image, empathy, and decision-making all get better with age. And as we age, our stress levels tend to get lower, meaning we generally experience more happiness in the later years of our lives. As we age though, we also encounter physiological changes in things like flexibility, stability, strength, and balance.


The good news is that while aging does affect us in various ways that we may not appreciate, there’s a lot we can do to limit the effect of age-related changes.


Like having a regular yoga practice.


Yoga is an excellent anti-aging tool. And it doesn’t matter where we’re starting from or at what age we begin—movement and yoga can help everyone.


My yoga classes in Santa Maria are generally filled with visiting holiday-makers, some of which have never practiced yoga before, and it can regularly happen that three generations of one family (kids, parents and grandparents) try out a class together. It tickles me pink to see three generations of one family practicing yoga together, and it’s always an absolute pleasure to watch the older generations exceed their own expectations and experience a release in their joints that they haven’t felt in years.


Here are some of the anti-aging benefits of yoga that we’ve talked about:


Balance:

Balance (equilibrium) is controlled in the inner ear. Fluid and small hair in the inner ear stimulate the auditory nerve, and also helps the brain maintain balance. As we age, structures inside the ear start to change and their functions decline. The ability to pick up sounds decreases, and we may also have problems maintaining our balance.


How yoga can help:

It's like the old adage, "If you don't use it, you'll lose it"! The ability to balance involves both our body and our brain; and when not practiced, one or both faculties will begin to diminish. Balance is a component of so many yoga poses, like Warrior, Triangle and Tree Pose. And when these poses are practiced over time, allowing the bones and muscles to strengthen as we progress, the combination of both the physical body and the brain working together will lead to improved balance.



Flexibility:

For most people, increased aches, pains and stiffness come with age. Sometimes it’s down to old injuries, less activity, or due to the accumulation of microfibers in the connective tissue between the muscles.


How yoga can help:

If you are one of the people that think yoga is only for flexible people then you couldn't be more wrong. Yoga creates flexibility! And you can start at any age, or any level of fitness. Gentle, regular stretching can help keep your body fluid and flexible, thereby helping to reverse some of that acquired stiffness. You might not touch your toes, but yoga will get you closer to them. And make you feel a lot looser in the process.


Breathing:

As we age, respiratory conditions can make breathing challenging to the point that our ability to do cardiovascular activities is limited, and in some cases our reduced ability to adequately fill the lungs with air can affect how we live our lives.


How yoga can help:

A large part of any yoga practice is focusing on our breath. And by learning to deepen our inhales and exhales we improve our overall ability to take in more air, which in turn increases energy to all of our cells and helps us "get up and go" as we age. Another distinct advantage of the type of deep breathing practiced in yoga is lower blood pressure. And as an added bonus, full, deep yoga breathing also improves digestion by giving the digestive organs an internal massage.

Back Pain:

If you’ve ever experienced back pain, you’ve probably been given the advice to strengthen your core. Building up the muscles in your trunk, back, abdomen, hips, and legs means that your spine is better supported, thus lessening tension in the back muscles.


How yoga can help:

Yoga offers specific poses for core strength that any age or level can practice. And as you move your body in new ways, your major stabilizing muscles have to adapt, meaning; you guessed it, stronger core strength and less back pain.


Arthritis:

Daily pain in joints like the hands, knees, wrists, hips or elbows are symptomatic of arthritis, causing stiffness, creaky joints and a limited range of motion.

How yoga can help:

A regular yoga practice can help in reducing joint pain and improving joint flexibility, as well as reducing inflammation. Just be mindful not to bear too much weight on your hands and wrists, which can be a very common location of arthritis pain.



Nerve Issues:

As we age, nerve issues are often caused by circulatory system issues, resulting in pain, weakness, numbness, cramping, or tingling. This often occurs in the hands, feet, fingers, and toes.


How yoga can help:

Movement is key for this ailment. And the movement involved in yoga poses in particular help greatly in improving circulation. Yoga allows you to explore your body in slow, safe movements, giving you the opportunity to get to know what works for your nerves. Just be sure to move slowly and pay careful attention to your body’s response in each pose.


And the best tip of all …

Go at your own pace. Don’t hold back on telling your yoga teacher about any ailments you are experiencing. Yoga teachers are trained to teach students how to be steady and comfortable in their poses, no matter what age, or level of fitness they are at. Each individual’s yoga practice should marry with their own body’s capabilities, thus freeing them from feeling like their yoga practice has to look a certain way. Some yoga students can do a handstand, some can’t, some students can lunge, some can’t, some can balance on one foot, some can’t. And that is perfectly fine. Learn to accept that your practice is your practice, find strength and ease in your yoga, and do what works for you.


Namaste,

Have yourself a great day :)

15 views
Yoga For Everyone
Santa Maria, Sal, Cabo Verde