We all know that our health is an essential part of a long and happy life. That’s why so many folks have turned to yoga; the health benefits of this practice have been documented everywhere from the Huffington Post to Harvard Medical School.
The benefits of yoga are so great that many people claim it is a miracle cure for everything from anxiety to aging. Can yoga help you live forever? Not exactly, but a regular yoga practice can help keep you mentally healthy and physically active well into your golden years. Here’s how:
Yoga Brings You Balance
Physical balance is a problem that plagues many aging individuals. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, falling is the leading cause of injury to seniors in the United States. Regular exercise can help to prevent falls--especially when that exercise focuses on strengthening your balance.
Postures such as warrior, triangle, and tree pose can help you practice balance, syncing your body and your brain to keep you steady. With regular practice, you can prevent a fall and the injuries that would accompany it, keeping you upright.
Yoga Strengthens Your Body
When you watch someone practice yoga, their moves look effortless, gentle and (with the exception of some advanced poses) easy. Once you hit the mat, however, you’ll quickly realize that every pose is helping to build strength in your body.
Yoga is a wonderful way to keep your body strong and spry throughout your life because it is a low-impact exercise that builds muscle slowly. This can help increase bone density and stave off some other age-related conditions--which helps you live longer!
Yoga Relieves Stress
There is no doubt that stress shortens your life. Several studies even prove it! Of course, there’s no way to completely avoid the stress and chaos that life can bring. However, we can learn to manage everyday stress in an effective way.
Mindfulness and meditation are integral to practicing yoga. Many poses, like savasana (or corpse pose), ask only that you lay still and focus on calming, cleansing breaths. By practicing this technique, you will find that overcoming stress becomes much easier, and life becomes much happier well into your later years.
Yoga Is More Than Movement
As people age, they tend to settle into old habits and patterns. This isn’t a bad thing--in some cases, it’s a great thing--but it is important to develop habits that will benefit our minds and bodies.
Yoga is one of those good habits. Not only is it wonderful exercise, a yoga practice can introduce you to a wonderful community of health-minded individuals, determined to live well as long as they can. Some yogis practice well into their 90s--and they’re more than willing to share the keys to a successful practice with everyone they meet.
Poses To Try
So, are you ready to give yoga a try? Start out with some simple poses that can help you keep aging at bay:
Tree Pose: Stand with your feet together and your toes forward. Shift your weight to your left leg, then place the sole of your right foot on the inside of your left thigh. Place your hands in prayer position in front of your chest, look straight ahead, and breathe. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Child’s Pose: Begin kneeling on your yoga mat (add a towel for extra support) with your thighs resting against your calves. Bend and the waist and reach your arms forward until you feel a stretch in your lower back. Rest your forehead on your mat and breathe.
Seated Twist: Sit on your mat with your legs crossed in front of you. Place your right arm on your left knee, and place your left arm on the ground behind you. Twist your body gently to the left and look over your left shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds while breathing, then repeat on the right side.
Inverted “L”: Lay on your back with your rear against a wall (you may want to add a pillow under you for extra support). Lean your legs against the wall above your head. Place your arms at your sides in a relaxed position, close your eyes, and breathe deeply for at least one minute.
If you practice these poses regularly, you just might find that your body and mind remain strong and healthy for years to come.