It’s a fact of life — we all age and age can affect us in various ways. But there is a lot we can do to limit the impact of age on our body and anti-aging yoga is an excellent tool to relieve symptoms and improve our overall well-being. Just think about it. There are some people in their 50’s who look and feel like they are in their 30’s and some people in their 20’s who look and feel like they are in their 40’s. Of course, good genes do play a role, but besides hitting the jack pot in the gene department, there are other lifestyle choices and habits that can either slow down or accelerate the aging process. If you are you looking for the fountain of youth, one of those lifestyle choices to significantly improve the odds against aging is anti-aging yoga.
Studies show that yoga is one of the best ways to slow down the clock. More specifically, a recent study revealed that practicing intensive yoga on a regular basis is directly linked to two key ingredients that are associated with youth and longevity: DHEAS (Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulphate) and GH (Growth Hormone). Of course other factors such as putting on sunblock, watching what you eat, reducing stress and screen time as well as a good night’s sleep in the right position also have a major impact on our ability to combat the signs of aging.
Reality is though, as we grow older, the amounts of DHEAS — an androgen hormone that is known as the ‘anti-aging’ hormone — and GH — which is related to the stimulation of cell growth and regeneration of new tissues such as muscle and skin — decrease. However, regular exercise such as anti-aging yoga and meditation have been associated with increased levels of GH as well as DHEAS throughout our lifespan.
Generally speaking, yoga uses moves as well as the breath to cleanse, restore and relax and improves circulation, flexibility, strength and balance, all of which helps you to look and feel younger.
HERE ARE OUR TOP 10 ANTI-AGING YOGA POSES TO SLOW DOWN THE EFFECTS OF AGING.
#1 Cobra / Sphinx / Upward Facing Dog
Excellent poses to improve posture, these gentle backbends stretch the abdomen, chest and shoulders while strengthening the spine and buttocks and help to relieve stress. It is important to engage your abs to support the lower back. Lie facedown on your mat with your feet together, tailbone tucked under and belly button pulled towards the spine. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and press your forearms into the floor as you raise your head and chest off the ground while pulling your shoulders down and back. Hold for 5 breaths and slowly release. For Cobra or Upward Facing Dog, place the hands directly underneath the shoulder and straighten the arms. For Cobra, the thighs and hips stay connected with the mat, in Upward Facing Dog only the palms of your hands and the tops of your feet are touching the floor.
#2 Bow Pose
Bow Pose is a great anti-aging posture because it improves digestion, which is a sign of a healthy body. It also enhances the function of our pancreas and keeps our hormones balanced. Besides, it helps to cure back aches as it is the perfect antidote to our bad sitting posture. Lie on your belly with your arms alongside your body, palms facing up, bend your knees and reach your hands back to grab your ankles, your knees should be no wider than hip-width distance apart. Inhale and lift your chest off the ground will pushing your feet away from your butt and up. Make sure your shoulders stay down the back and hold this pose for 30 to 45 seconds before slowly coming back to your starting position. Bring one cheek onto the mat and wiggle your tush before repeating Bow two more times. After the last bow, relax in child’s pose for a minute.
#3 Seated Spinal Twist
Twists promote a healthy spine and can help to relieve back pain and tight back muscles from too much sitting. Keep in mind, we are only as old as our spine is flexible, so make sure your spine stays flexible, supple and healthy. Sit up straight with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your right knee and cross the right foot over your left thigh. Bring the right hand behind you, placing it close to your butt to support a straight spine and hook the left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Turn your head and look over the right shoulder and hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, release the twist and repeat the same on the other side. You can intensify the stretch by bending the left knee as well and binding your hands behind your back or lessen the intensity of the stretch by hugging the knee into your chest instead of hooking the left elbow to the outside of your right knee.
#4 Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog is a gentle inversion that works like an instant facelift while at the same time improving circulation, digestion and cardiovascular function. Besides, you build a strong upper body and core while improving flexibility in your legs and hips. Start in a plank pose with your shoulders directly over your wrists, feet hip-width distance apart and your body in one straight line from the heels to the crown of your head. Brace your core and lift the hips up and back while keeping the spine in a neutral position and arms and legs straight. Let your heels sink down towards the ground and place equal weight in both hands as well as both feet. If it feels good, pedal through the heels and then find the stretch by reaching both heels towards the ground. Hold for 45 to 60 seconds before releasing the pose.
#5 Bridge Pose
Bridge Pose is a slight inversion and backbend all rolled into one that can be restorative or stimulating. It helps to improve blood circulation and digestion while at the same time reversing fine lines and graying. On top of that, Bridge Pose help to alleviate stress — which can age us quickly — and stimulates our lungs, abdominal organs and thyroid gland. Lie face up on your mat with your knees bent and your feet hip-width distance apart, close to your butt. Pull your belly button towards the spine, tuck your tailbone under and lift your hips, lower and middle back off the ground, engaging your glutes. Hold Bridge Pose for up to 1 minute — you can always place a block underneath the sacrum for a more restorative version — before slowly lowering back down to the ground.
#6 Standing Forward Fold
Another easy inversion to improve blood flow. Standing Forward Fold is also a great option to improve flexibility in the lower back, hips and hamstrings. Stand tall with your feet together or hip-width distance apart, lengthen the spine and reach the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. Hinge forward at the hips and fold forward over your legs. You can either stay there with your hands on the ground or blocks or grab opposite elbows and gently sway side to side, making sure to release any tension in the head, neck and shoulders to completely unwind and relax.
#7 Revolved Lunge
As we’ve seen earlier, twists are the ultimate way to improve flexibility in our spine and hips, while also increasing digestive function. Start in a runner’s lunge with your right foot forward, knee directly over the ankle and your left leg completely straight. Lift your torso up and bring your hands together in front of your heart. Hook the left elbow to the outside of the right knee, rotating your body towards the right. Alternately, you can extend the left arm forward and the right arm back at shoulder height for a lesser intense version. Hold for five to ten breaths before repeating on the other side.
#8 Shoulder Stand
Like any other inversion, Shoulder Stand increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, which helps to calm the mind and makes you happy. It also helps to improve digestion as well as fight nausea. Lie on your back with your legs straight up towards the ceiling. Engage your core to lift your hips off the ground to come onto your shoulder blades while reaching the legs straight up towards the ceiling. Keep your feet pointed and your toes flexed and aim for one straight line from your toes to your shoulder blades. Bring the hands to the small off your back and make sure not to turn your head or neck. Hold for up to 3 minutes to get the most benefits.
#9 Fish Pose
Fish Pose is great to improve posture while stimulating the abdominal organs, improving digestion and keeping you light and hearty. It keeps you active and fresh and relieves tension and irritability. In Fish Pose we open up the throat and the chest and with that allow oxygen-rich blood to flow into the brain. Lie face-up on your mat and bring your hands underneath your butt. Prop yourself up on your elbows, arch the back and let the head fall back. The point is to keep lifting your chest while bringing the crown of your head down towards the ground. Hold Fish Pose for 45 to 60 seconds before releasing it.
#10 Plow Pose
Plow Pose is a powerful stretch for the entire back of your body, particularly the spine and shoulders and significantly improves circulation, calms the mind and stimulates the abdominal organs and thyroid gland. Start lying on your back with your arms alongside the body, legs straight up towards the ceiling. Pull the belly button towards the spine and lift your hips and lower back off the ground, letting your feet come down behind your head. You can either bring your hands on the lower back for support if your toes don’t touch the ground or interlace them underneath you and reach them to the front of the room. Keep your chin away from the chest and hold Plow for 30 to 60 seconds before releasing the pose by using your hands as breaks.
Bonus Pose: Legs-Up-the-Wall
Legs-Up-The-Wall is one of our favorite restorative yoga poses because it is a powerful stress reliever. Traditionally this pose is seen as a pose that slows down the aging process because it helps to renew blood and lymph drainage. Sit sideways on a pillow or blanket close to a wall and then pivot as your bring your back down to the ground while bringing your legs up the wall. You want your butt touching the wall and your legs pointing straight up. Your arms can be alongside your body, up overhead or with bent elbows in cactus arms. Some people like to stay in Legs-Up-The-Wall for Savasana, because it feels so comfortable.
Whether we like it or not, the effects of aging start to set in around the age of 25. There is overwhelming evidence that shows that a regular yoga practice has the power to decrease the risk of diseases associated with cellular aging such as cancer, diabetes and depression as well as inflammation. Anti-aging yoga also inhibits age-related symptoms like reduced collagen production and even osteoporosis as well as Alzheimer’s.
And since stress is one of the major factors that make us age faster, check out our 9 Yoga Poses to Naturally Reduce Cortisol & Stress.
TURN BACK THE CLOCK OF TIME WITH YOGA
Joschi & Monika