According to yoga philosophy, it is the flexibility of the spine, not the number of years since you were born that determines a person’s age. It is easier to track the chronological age of a person, time and date of birth. But, what about your biological age? Or your age of maturity?
Meet my grandmother, Eleanor. At 95 years young, she still exercises her body and mind, incorporating yoga into her daily life. If you ask her, she might not call it yoga, but she has maintained flexibility, balance, and elasticity in her spine. She has increased circulation, removed tension from the body and mind, and maintained length in her spine. Not to mention, her soul swells with positivity and her mind seeks clarity.
Like a bottle of vintage wine, the practice of yoga provides your body + mind get better with time. With practice, we embrace vitality and eternal well-being, leaving behind the characteristics of old age.
A longer, more fulfilled life can be possible by following yogic ways of health and maintenance prevention. Remove the dangers of internal disease and habits leading to degeneration, and we naturally live longer.
Begin incorporating these three simple yoga postures into your daily routine and begin to reap the benefits now:
Stand straight, and energetically lengthen through the crown (top) of your head. Stand tall into your feet, ankles to touch, hands by your side with palms facing forward. With an inhale, rise on to your toes and lengthen your arms overhead, palms to touch overhead. With an exhale, stay lifted and lengthen even more though the crown of your head. Stay for one complete breath, lowering slowly back to your heels as you exhale.
Stand in Tadasana, hands on hips. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend draw the front torso out of the groins and open the space between the pubis and top sternum. As in all the forward bends, the emphasis is on lengthening the front torso as you move more fully into the position. If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn’t possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Press or beside your the heels firmly into the floor and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. Turn the top thighs slightly inward. With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. In this way the torso oscillates almost imperceptibly with the breath. Let your head hang from the root of the neck, which is deep in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.
This posture lengthens the hamstrings, calves ad hips while strengthening the knees and thighs. It stimulates the liver and kidneys while activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.
In order to age gracefully, we must challenge our balance regularly. Perform half moon on the right side with you left hand resting on the left hip. Inhale, bend your right knee and slide your left foot about 6 to 12 inches forward. At the same time, advance your right hand forward, beyond the little-toe side of the right foot. Exhale, press your right hand and right heel firmly into the floor, and straighten your right leg, simultaneously lifting the left leg parallel (or a little above parallel) to the floor. Extend actively through the left heel to keep the raised leg strong. Rotate your upper torso to the left, but keep the left hip moving slightly forward. Bear the body’s weight mostly on the standing leg. Press the lower hand lightly to the floor, using it to intelligently regulate your balance. Lift the inner ankle of the standing foot strongly upward, as if drawing energy from the floor into the standing groin.
This posture strengthens the abdomen, ankles, thighs, and spine. In addition, it stretches the hamstrings, calves, shoulders and chest while improving coordination. When in a balancing pose like this, the brain lights up like fireworks, improving mental clarity.