I can tell this by what they are wearing as well as the yoga mats slung across their backs. However, there’s a third sign that perhaps isn’t as obvious as the others, but it’s unmistakable… that elusive youthful glow. Moving gently down the street, these yogis and yoginis are relaxed anomalies within a crowd of stressed and hurried urbanites.
And what’s more, that bloom of youth is coming from within.
Yoga experts around world understand the benefits - a regular practice (3 times a week or more), actually changes the body’s system and slows down the aging process on a biochemical level, leading to better hormonal balance, and suppressing the genes that make us age (such as the dreaded stress hormone cortisol, which has been implicated as a major underlying cause of disease and aging).
According to Sadie Nardini, the Founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, a study found that 3 hourly sessions a week make the practitioners nine years younger than their non-yogi counterparts. Not LOOK nine years younger. BE nine years younger, by actually changing your DNA. This study found that these exercisers had much longer telomeres than sedentary people (telomeres are the aspect of DNA that acts as a marker for aging.) In a German Study of 24 women, it was found that yoga can reduce stress by nearly 33%: when yoga is practiced, clenched jaws and furrowed brows relax, helping smooth away wrinkles. In addition, yoga can also reduce oxidative stress, which breaks down the skin’s elasticity. In an Indian study, oxidative stress levels dropped by 9% after just ten days of yoga. The results of research all point to the same answer – yoga brings youth.
There are specific power poses, which specifically work to trigger the main endocrine glands: reproductive, adrenals, thymus, thyroid, hypothalamus, pituitary and penal, and the major organs. We thank Sadie Nardini and her blog on Gaiam’s website for the following step-by-step guide to anti-aging yoga poses.
1. Seated Cat/Cow: Regulates reproductive and stress hormones. Come into an Easy. Seat. Place your hands on knees, and with each inhale, arch your back, drawing shoulder blades closer. Exhale, and round in, shoulder blades move apart, chin toward chest. Repeat for one minute or more.
2. Metabolic Spark: Regulates metabolism and weight management, immunity. Return to Easy Seat. Inhale into the chest and ribs, and reach your arms out parallel to the floor, palms facing forward. Exhale more quickly from the navel, and swing your arms to reach out in front of you, palms face each other. Repeat for one minute.
3. Twisted Lunge:Regulates organ health, overall system function. Come into a Lunge Position, back heel up, hips squared. Bring your palms together at the chest and plant your right elbow onto the left knee. Keep the hips level as you exhale and spin your heart and top shoulder to the sky. Place your back knee down onto the floor if needed. Take 5-10 breaths here, then switch sides.
4. Humble Warrior:Regulates sleep, aging. Come into a Warrior One Stance, right foot forward, back foot planted with toes facing diagonally to the left corner of the mat. Interlace your fingers behind the back, inhale to arch the back, and exhale, bow forward. Your right shoulder brushes the inner front knee. After a few breaths here, spin your back heel up into a Lunge Position, place your back knee on the mat and take the crown of your head lightly onto the floor or a block. Take 5 breaths in the high pose, and one minute in the lower position.
5. Sleeping Pigeon:Regulates mental sharpness, endorphins, the master balance of glands. Move into Pigeon, right knee forward and wide of the right hip, back leg extends behind you. Fold forward with level hips, and press your forehead into double fists or a block. Breathe here for two minutes then switch sides.
6. Supported Shoulder Stand:Regulates sleep, skin elasticity, detoxification. Lie on your back, knees bent. Life your hips and place a block under them. Raise your legs into the air, bent knees at first, then straightening them when you feel stable. Free float in this supported inversion, or take the legs onto a wall. Be here for 5 minutes to end your practice.
One of the great things about Yoga is that it can be done practically anywhere. There are classes at the gym as well as dedicated studios, but there’s also the living room, the park, the beach. Minimal equipment is needed – comfortable clothing, a yoga mat, perhaps some soothing music.
Finally, as any yogi or yogini will attest, their practice brings them true happiness. And if that’s not the key to anti-aging, what is?
Home Fitness, Yoga, Pilates
Read more about Kim Matheson Shedrick
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Conventional wisdom has long held that living a healthy life means eating well and getting enough exercise. Both are true enough, but those are just two pieces of a much bigger picture.